At Christmas time we pull names before getting together with extended family. The intent it to have each person buy a gift for one person. To make the occasion a bit more special, the ‘giver’ will include a personalized poem with the gift. While the ‘poem’ might not meet a minimal literary standard, it is much appreciated by the person receiving the gift.
I received a gift with a poem that left me feeling much appreciated. At the same time, it left me quite upset. I was surprised by my ambivalent response. It was like being torn, like being two different people.
The poem and the gift acknowledged my ABI (acquired brain injury) status. The injury puts me in the broader category of functioning as a neurologically atypical person. That in itself was nothing new.
I have been blogging for two years about the challenges of living with ABI and acknowledging my neuro-diverse (ND) status. However, when someone else puts it in writing, something in me changes.
So what changed? When I shared my experiences that match those of a neurologically atypical person, it’s like I only half believed it. The reason I only half believed it is because often as I go through a day or two and maybe even a week I might feel like my old self. I find myself functioning in a manner that does not remind me of my ABI. It’s kind of like being in denial.
When someone else mentions my neurological atypical functioning I hear something different. It challenges my denial. I makes it seem much more real. It makes my current status as ND seem inescapable. That’s the part that made the poem and gift upsetting.
What is heartwarming is that despite my ABI I am accepted and loved. Despite my limitations I am not forgotten or overlooked. The poem reminded me that I am in important part of my extended family.
The support, encouragement and understanding that I receive from within my family helps me look beyond the limitations I experience living with ABI.