“Memories are just where you laid them
Drag the waters till the depths give up their dead
What did you expect to find
Was there something you left behind
Don’t you remember
Anything I said when I said,
Don’t fall away
And leave me to myself
Don’t fall away
And leave love bleeding in my hands
In my hands again”
-Hemmorage by Fuel
First off, to be clear. I do not see myself as a victim, I do not ask for sympathy, this is not to promote notoriety from mental health issues. This is my personal battle and a battle shared by many others, that is real, is devastating, and be honest without living a false life portrayed on social media.
There is a pain worse than could be expressed by Yeats, Frost, Whitman, or any other poet could pen. To have a love so pure and perfect. You laugh together, cry together, can be wholly open with, trust is without question, every secret, fear, hope, struggles, past and present. You have never been happier than with that person, never more complete. Then without warning, you see them begin to draw away, become cold, the laughter turns to tears, the communication turns to arguments, the love turns to hate. Confusion begins to manifest alongside misunderstanding. How could the person who you loved, was perfect, your other half, become everything you hate? Emotional, dramatic, argumentative, unable to communicate. As the separation draws deeper, your heart breaks along with your mind. “What is going on?” “What is happening?” so many questions fill your mind, unable to explain why you both have become so cold why there is a wall where there was once green pasture.
One thing to truly let sink in, is that the person with a TBI/PTSD is still that same person intrinsically, but their mind, like a broken leg or arm, is now broken. That everyone is individually affected differently and each injury will be specific to that individual. Symptoms and signs my be the same, but that person will manifest them differently. Do not forget who I am, who I was when you fell in love with me.
It’s so hard to fight a battle that is unseen and has no visible scars, especially one that affects you and who you used to be. To come to terms with the “new” you. There are parts of me that haven’t changed and never will. I strive to be humble, honest, sincere, empathetic, kind, gracious, understanding, etc. The first thing to go after years of digression without treatment was my verbal communication and my ability to understand social cues, subtleties, and cognitive processes. With verbal communication in person or over the phone, no longer an option due to circumstance or a way to distance oneself. I was sometimes forced to text or email. With my mind already not working the same, for me to communicate had become me speaking in circles, repeating myself until my mind processes what I am trying to say. Doing so no longer in person or the phone, results in an ocean of texts an emails that don’t make sense, is contradictory, and tiring both to write and the other to go through. The frustration and feeling of incompetence became overwhelming. Where communication once flowed freely, now with everything I write taken as mean or hurtful, prompting me to rewrite or re-explain. My desire and who I am is not mean, or hurtful, or angry, or accusatory. But everything I try to communicate is no longer seen as such. I would beg, in confusion, “remember me, remember who you fell in love with.” “just be my friend, why can’t you be my friend.” Feeling as if they had forgotten and that is why instead of reading what I wrote in an attempt to get the overall point and purpose, being read as something I am not, mean, hurtful, blunt, without tact, accusatory, dramatic. The way I would express something or share it, to me would have one meaning based on who I am as a person, i.e. I thought it would be sweet, romantic, kind, encouraging, or holding them accountable, helping them become a better person or reach their full potential, and be who they strive to be. Would be taken completely different due to my failure in expressing those things in the way I intended. Coming across as accusatory, dramatic, emotional, heartless, not listening, condemning, judging, or critical. That is why it is important to remember and keep in mind who that person is and interpret it through who you know they are. If you need clarity or something was taken different ask for clarity and to explain before getting angry, hurt, or shutting them off. In person, my communication began to disappear. Communication, in general, became non-existent. Because I was ashamed I could no longer express myself, that my mind took so much longer to process or comprehend a conversation, let alone speak without feeling stupid.
This is one of, if not the most important thing to work on and focus on not letting go. So many times when the communication between couples begins to deteriorate, one or both of the individuals begin to seek that communication in someone else, confiding in other people that do not know what is going on, only know half-truths, or possibly have selfish motives themselves. This commonly, these days, takes place over social media and is a killer to relationships. Dealing with the problems and struggles with those who don’t understand, being given advice to break-up, divorce, etc. Telling them they don’t deserve to be treated that way, or that person is crazy, not worth it, they are in a different place, or you need to take a break and work on yourself. The problem is relationship problems/trauma, requires relationship healing. Trying to heal on your own, instead of work on the problems with your significant other, either through counseling, trusted third parties, the church, etc. leads to infidelity, emotional adultery, and only causes more pain and hurt. Where after the break-up and divorce, the person they confided in or people whether physically or emotionally, end up not filling that gap and wound to be healed. As it can only be healed with the one you love and where the problem was/is. Outside of physical abuse, leaving and separating instead of acknowledging the issues and dealing with them. Can be solved with grace, understanding, and learning how to communicate with each other now that it has changed. Saving each other from more damage, hurt, and pain through failed relationship after failed relationship, giving pieces of your heart and soul to others who don’t cherish and value those things outside of physical desire and false emotional connections.
When you have a TBI the brain is now working in overtime. Things that used to be simple and “no brainers” now become difficult, challenging, and to the person with the TBI, infuriating, embarrassing, humiliating, and feelings failure manifest. This mental fatigue becomes a mental fog. Everything from the moment you wake up till when you go to sleep is in slow motion. Unrelenting tiredness overwhelms you. People say “how can you be tired you just slept,” or “you’re too young to be tired,” the outward also interpreted as laziness or having no drive. This too begins to add to what your brain is already dealing with, questioning if you are lazy, maybe you are broken, what happened, you used to run missions, pass schools and selections on no sleep, little food, and now you can’t get enough rest to make it through the morning. This struggle manifests depression, only adding to the already major issue of overwhelming tiredness. You begin wanting to just give up, stay in bed all day, never leave, not go on walks, or movies, or out in general. You become ashamed of yourself, remembering who you are and used to be, disgusted by this new person you have become.
The truth is, it gets better over time with routine and help from your significant other. Verbal and physical support does wonders in the progression of recovery. Being understanding that they do need rest, naps, etc. Because their brain is constantly working in overtime. By not scolding them or dealing with them out of frustration and anger, it helps in the prevention of depression and feelings of worthlessness and victim mentality of feeling broken. Instead of being angry at them for not seeing the trash is full, ask them simply to take out the trash. Simple things like that, for some, at least for me become foreign. I do not register things like that or my car is dirty, or laundry is needed to be done. Simply being told, hey let’s clean out your car, or make sure you do laundry for the week, you should clean your room to help clear your mind. Helped me begin to re-register those things that need to be done, eventually getting back to doing them on my own without being told. The feeling of “not wanting to babysit” is common, but you must not look at it from that perspective. You must see that their mind is trying to process so many things that were once automatic, from communicating, showering, eating, a task for the day, work, school, etc. That they miss and don’t even think about other things. Encouraging them to go out to dinner, walks, movies, etc. they will do it and enjoy it. But on their own, those things aren’t on their radar, because their brain is in a constant fog. Going back to the importance of communication, telling them if what they said or how they are acting is not appropriate or is being seen as rude, callous, hurtful, telling them how you feel or they are making you feel etc. Doing so in a loving and encouraging manner as to not make them feel you are chewing them out.
It may seem like a lot but the truth is getting through the adjustment to the “new” dynamics of the relationship, can lead to a deeper, more loving, and fruitful relationship. As the commitment and unity between you two and or friends and family, reaches depths of investment in love, kindness, and understanding, that wouldn’t be found without that. Gold is refined in the fire and after it is refined its value and worth becomes multiplied. To have a productive tree producing lots of fruit, you must prune the branches, water the roots, and enrich the soil. Everything good and beneficial in life takes work, dedication, and commitment. Today’s society and culture seeks after easy, sex, and quits as soon as the other get what they want. Moving on to the next relationship until it gets difficult or takes a little bit of work. If you found a love of a good man or woman, who is faithful, honest, dedicated, selfless, invested, supports you and encourages you, who brings out the best in you, and brings you closer to God or whatever you believe in. Don’t let outside influences cast doubt and fear into your heart, especially when most of the advice is coming from those who had horrible relationships and is biased towards things not working out or afraid of what could be. Or they have their own selfish agenda’s, or don’t know the full story, or only know half-truths, minimal clarity, and understanding of the entire situation. When what could be, is the greatest gift and personally fulfilling journey you could ever find or have. A love and relationship that is deeper and stronger than anything you would find outside of what you have, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Don’t give up, adapt and overcome, I have made many mistakes have hurt people and damaged friendships and relationships, due to my selfish desire to not get help, address and fix the issue. The only way is to accept the change, accept the issue, and learn how to now navigate the new territory, in patience, kindness, love, and understanding.
Always Beside You.
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