I would like to think, with the intense self-analysis I am in the habit of, that I pick up fairly quickly on behavioral patterns and characteristics important to honest self-evaluation and, hopefully, growth. I am regularly double- and triple-checking my thoughts, reverse-engineering my motives to tease out any self-serving purpose that might sabotage me and hinder progress in this brain-damaged life. For that reason, I’m a little torn on what to post this week. Earlier this week, on one of my introspective pilgrimages, I stared down my own flawed thinking – and blinked first. In the spirit of honest self-evaluation and disclosure, I intended to write about this thought process, despite no direct correlation to brain damage (although the origin of the thought may be correlation enough), the essence of this blog. Over the last two days, however, I’ve considered the concept of “learning” in various contexts, something conveniently more suited to a conversation surrounding my brain. My inclination, then, is to go with the second topic, but I feel compelled to relay the first, and since I never want to be accused of letting myself off easy, here are my originally intended incriminatory thoughts.
As noted earlier, I thought I had a fair and accurate picture of myself. Sure, there were things I didn’t like – my social hang-ups, subversive behavioral patterns, and a quagmire of not-yet-rated personality traits – but I felt I had my bases covered. It was some shock, then, to realize that what I thought were separate, justified instances were actually consistent and damning proofs.
Turns out I’m a proud, judgmental ass.
Before you all rush to get a good spot on the bandwagon (“Shotgun!”), let me relay the train of thought that brought me here, it starts with being wrong and being mistaken.
Being mistaken is just that, a mistake, an accident. There is no ill will, predetermined conclusion, or willful negligence – that’s why we call it an “honest mistake”. Being wrong, in my mind, indicates a decision to hold to an assumption, and finding out the truth is, in fact, the opposite. I don’t get too worked up over the mistakes I make, though I suspect some may be a portent of something that is actually legitimately wrong, and generally consider myself a work-in-progress (in life in general and, more specifically, in my aim to thrive with brain damage).
In the chaotic crapshoot that was life immediately post-accident, I was endlessly confused and made countless mistakes, mistakes that were understood and excused given the situation and my condition. Eight years out and my brain damage isn’t the bullet-proof, air-tight excuse it used to be, handy for downgrading my “wrongs” to mere “mistakes”. Acknowledging this practice and my adherence to it makes it clear I am wrong more often than mistaken.
People talk about “Eureka” or “Ah-ha” moments, but my epiphany was neither of these – it was a “Oh…fuck.” moment. Doubly convicted of how often I was wrong of those around me, and how defiantly I stuck to my proud views, it was like the lights went on while I, shocked and ashamed at my appearance, scurried to crawl back into the shadows. I want to attribute my maligned thoughts and actions to my faulty brain somehow, but that’s a cop out, and also untrue. My snap quick assessments of people are habitually wrong, not merely mistaken, and I know enough of how I function now that the responsibility for this is all on me. I render a hastily constructed verdict of others, born mostly from my own insecurity and pride, then go about preserving that verdict, effectively withholding any opportunity to be proven wrong.
My apologies – not my finest work, but I’ll work on making these wrongs right.