Back to the Beginning: Petrified! (posted Oct. 7, 2008)

I have only recently become aware of my fear – and its magnitude – at this potential loss of house and pets. Sure, it’s something I’ve faced since losing my job in 2002, but now, it is up close and personal. (Thinking of “objects may be closer than they appear” on rear view mirrors.)

In a lot of ways, working hard to keep from losing my house is a good distraction from having to face that very reality, maybe if I work hard enough I can change things, make something happen. In all honestly, I don’t have a hard and fast plan. Thus far no one who walks this path does…just as those who have helped others walk this path do not either. That, is unsettling, to say the least. Most of us have a certain amount of comfort or sanity that comes with having control over our lives. I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone hoping I would get better or something would change. It is a life lesson for me to live with what is, not what I would like life to be. The comfort or gift of having control over my own life stopped the split second that other car rear ended me on the freeway and changed my life forever.

I think this is why I’m hoarding food! I am adrift trying to find security, stability somewhere. Hoarding is not part of my spiritual practice so I can see why I’m off balance, feeling out of sorts. These needs are basic according to Maslow’s scale. I guess for me hoarding food is the next best thing to the comfort of having stability and certainty with my home.

It’s a fear thing whether I’ll have enough to eat for myself, and my pets. They don’t deserve this. My dog has Cancer, I give her a raw foods diet in the morning to keep her healthy and strong. I saw a bump on her nose and feared Cancer…and the dreadful knowing I can’t help her as I would like to if it is. I can’t afford the vet and that breaks my heart. I struggle to do the right thing. She has loved me with her life, I have to give her my best in return. Everyone has advice, but advice is not helpful or reasonable unless it is realistic, suitable or attainable.

I think a lot of people put advice where their help, love, or faith in action should be.
And holy heck, their advice is based on their experience, expectations and lives, they can’t measure my life and fathom life with a Brain Injury. To them, it is merely advice or opinions. To me, this is my life we’re talking about! They can make mistakes with words, but mistakes with my life cost me dearly. I cannot afford to have anyone be reckless with my life.

I really believe if people knew how difficult this path really is, they couldn’t go without helping in a powerful way.

This is not about me, it’s not a personal issue, poor planning, or anything we can place judgment on. This is real life. Things happen. People become disabled and can no longer work. Then they fight the very same system they paid into that was created to “help” them. The resources just aren’t there, the system is not built to support people, the system exists for itself.

I have wondered why people give up. I’m a natural born fighter, so have some fight left, but wonder about those who have to give up (notice I say have to, not choose to). I believe the system beats them down so much because they don’t fit in the system they believe they don’t fit anywhere. That’s a lot of heartache and pain to take and I can see why a person would be beat down. You’re in honest-to-God hard times, you go to get help, you’re a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, God knows what these people have said to you, and you walk away a little smaller each time.

The author of “Head Cases” said anyone thinking positively of living with Traumatic Brain Injury is simply not realistic.

This is no picnic or vacation. It is why my blog is titled The Fight of My Life. And honestly, I wonder, if I am to live this life with continual, staggering struggle, wouldn’t it have been better had I died?

We have some harmful preconceived notions about life with disability. I had no flipping clue the difficulties people faced with disabilities, I knew discrimination, etc., but the reality of the day-to-day struggle to survive and constant fight to get help is daunting, discouraging, disheartening, and exhausting.

Having to dive into my savings as last resort opened up two emotional paths, one of great fear, and one of a “go ahead, make my day” kind of attitude as I step closer to this reality. I think the fact I don’t have a solid plan terrifies me most.

I realized this week while buying more groceries I’m not alone in having to use food stamps and in this financial struggle, you see it on the faces of people in the stores. The elderly woman I saw had that look of someone who stretched her dollars farther than anyone thought imaginable. The despair, the concern is obvious. If you think these economic times are hard for the average American, ponder in your heart and prayers those on limited incomes.

We had hard times growing up, my Dad had been laid off, Mom, who decorated cakes and made crafts helped us stay afloat during those tough times. I do not disdain economic hard times now, I think as Americans we have become too self-absorbed and self-centered. We have been blessed to be a blessing, not benefit ourselves with bigger televisions, cars, and homes. Those things are ill-suited for fulfilling our heart’s deepest longings anyway, sometimes the tough times serve to remind us what matters most. The Greatest Generation served in WWII, made due with food rations and unthinkable tough times. I doubt they complained like people today, those very same people who struggled so much served and gave of their lives until they received their final reward.

I realized I’ve been living with a sinus infection for the last several weeks maybe months, thinking it was allergies. We TBIers pay a high price for stress, it causes the rest of the body to shut down.

Grey’s Anatomy recent episode was timely. Meredith is getting counseling and she said it’s a horrible world, how can people be happy in a horrible world? The counselor said it is not possible to be happy in the horrible, but need to feel the horrible, to be okay with feeling the feelings. This resonated with me with all the advice I’ve been given to ‘be happy’, when in all reality, this sucks. Telling a person to be happy when they’re experiencing ongoing trauma sends the message you can’t accept them where they’re at, and, you are communicating the person’s way of handing their personal trauma is wrong. These are heavy, destructive messages from a person who hasn’t experienced what they have.

Update on Unemployment: After two months of phone calls, paperwork and waiting, the good news is I will receive Unemployment, the bad news is, because I’m unable to work full-time as a result of my disability, they are cutting my compensation to that of a part-time worker. I will continue to have to live off of savings, despite my hopes otherwise.

My food benefits have ended, the dire, exhausting struggle continues…

About Resilient Heart

TBI x3, that's me! If you had a Traumatic Brain Injury (or Injuries!) and knew you might not remember dates, events, people, etc., would you live each day differently? Would you give more, forgive more, heal more? I am. The statistics for me developing Dementia or Alzheimer's is a high possibility - one, because of the TBIs, and two - because I'm genetically predisposed. Come with me as this present moment is all we know we have... Wishing you all the best - today & always. Blessings, Love & Peace, RH
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2 Responses to Back to the Beginning: Petrified! (posted Oct. 7, 2008)

  1. All you wrote is so real for anyone with a major disability. Hoarding food was my release at first. I ended up with years of stockpiled food and a freezer full. Am still living of that :).
    I hope the best for you because I understand your problems. I live with my own, different cause than yours, but society every where make life very hard for the disabled.

  2. Hi Francis, thanks so much for your comment! I’m just now replying because my email filter got a little quirky and finding my blog-related emails is something else! Oh, so much for technology being a labor-saving device – LOL!

    I hadn’t realized until recently how HUGE my need for security is. That on its own can become a fear-based addiction. PTSD? Probably. We end up losing to, or have the potential to lose everything and it sure as heck seems no one is going to save us. It’s a tough place to try to live, always on the edge of fear and anxiety.

    Where would we learn about tolerance and acceptance for those different than us?

    We’re not exactly mainstream in the media, but, to quote Chief Tecumseh, “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” I’d say we’re some pretty strong twigs! 🙂

    (Yup, another quote from the movie “Act of Valor.”)

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