Moving Beyond Denial

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A cherished gift from my niece

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.

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Author: Jasper Hoogendam

After 36 years as an educator my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). I don't want to let my ABI limit the goals I set for myself. I'm living with a different brain, not a lesser brain. In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

2 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Denial”

  1. It’s funny how we know ourselves over time, much by the observations of others in our lives. Yet, sometimes the things we own about ourselves are protected, or maybe insulated, until someone else calls out a truth about ourselves. Tricky. It’s like “Only I can say that about myself.” Does that make sense? I guess that’s what I received by this blog. Carry on Jasper…you make me think, and I appreciate that!

    Liked by 2 people

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