My current situation has me thinking back to what I call the “dark times” of my recovery from brain damage, not because they are the same in terms of trauma (brain damage is harder), but because that experience is of great use now.
In the early years post-accident, I was lost. I was an emotional wreck, I acted out in often harmful ways, I was perpetually stressed/upset, and I had no idea why. I had little control over anything, let alone myself. It was hell and there was little I could do. Things will get better, I told myself, for I couldn’t accept that things would just suck forever – I mean, how could they? But with no recourse to the infinite tortures I felt, my only option was to just sit and take it. So I did that in the best way I knew – putting my best foot forward and my strongest face up front.
That front, however, belied the extent of my experience. That epoch was marked with tears soaking my pillow while I waited to fall asleep (and again when I woke to face another unbearable day), a desperate longing to return to past days of former glory, and a frantic search for clues as to what to do next. What I wanted contrasted sharply with what was needed. I wanted things to be sorted out, for the innumerable anxieties I felt to be resolved, and for life to regain the promise it always held for me – and as quickly as possible, please. In the hindsight that reveals treasures in trials, I can see that what I needed was to persevere, to hang in there long enough for redemption to run its course. What I wanted was to just be better. What I needed was to just be.
I wanted to give up, but what I needed was to keep showing up.
The things I wanted, had I received any of them, would have benefitted me little. A shortcut appeases superficial longings, but enforces laziness at the cost of character. The things I needed shape perspective, distill character, and foster integrity. Early on, probably through divine intervention, I recognized the necessity of the process enough that the notions of skipping any steps felt ultimately detrimental.
And the same dynamic is in effect now, but with a slight twist this time around. I want relief, but I want what’s right and what’s best even more. The superficial longings I have now, driven by wounded emotions, present superficial solutions that are appealing but ultimately inadequate for the deep issues at hand. With the knowledge gleaned from making my way through brain damage, the things I want regarding Anya and I are the things we each need. They are things everyone needs, and should have.
More than anything, I want these needs to be met, and we are taking the first steps toward that.