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Like moving to a different country

Posted Apr 13 2012 9:47am

I must admit, I am at an impasse.

On the one hand, I am doing work similar to what I’ve done for the past 15 years, and despite the increased difficulties I’ve had doing the things I used to do daily and take for granted, I am able to get the job done.

On the other hand, it feels way too complicated and convoluted to me, and I dread doing it, each day. I can do this work if I put my mind to it, but it just feels like such a struggle, sometimes. And it can be very discouraging and dispiriting. I keep at it, but the old joy that used to be there for me… well, it feels a lot less joyful than it used to.

I’ve been wanting to make a change for some time, but I haven’t been able to find a way to do it, and I’m feeling like I’m about to give up. I know that when I do my regular exercise and breathing, everything gets better. When I have regular rest, everything gets better. But the old joy I used to feel at my life, the engagement, the excitement, the absolute pleasure I used to get from the work… it hasn’t been around for years. And I don’t know what to do about it.

No, I do know what to do about it. I’m being silly. I need to find the spark again. I need to find the joy. I’m so sick and tired of slogging through, constantly having to play catch-up with work that others think I should do, but that doesn’t move me — aside from getting me a paycheck every other week. I’m very grateful to have a job — don’t get me wrong. But I’m sick and tired of feeling like I have to settle, like I have to take what’s given me and not complain, because everybody agrees that “that’s just how things are”.

I’m not that kind of person. I seriously need some inspiration. I need a new spark.

So, how do I get that spark? I think I need to make some adjustments to how I do things — I need to focus less on trying to master the things I do okay at, and focus more on the things I do really, really well. Some of these things are different than they used to be — my accident in 2004 got me all jumbled up, and when the pieces came back together, they were configured differently. I was configured differently. And a part of me has been pushing to get back to the old place I used to be.

But I can’t. Not anymore. I’ve got to find different ways of approaching my life, of approaching my work. I’ve got to learn to speak a different language — and learn new customs. It’s like I’ve moved to a new country where things are unfamiliar and not like my country of origin. And I need to adapt to new ways of doing things.

This, to me, is an easier way to conceptualize the changes in my brain that happened with my TBI in 2004. It’s easier than telling myself I need to “accept my limitations” — a mindset that doesn’t leave me any room for what to do instead — the focus is on limitations and accepting a way of life that is, well, limited. It doesn’t put the focus on what’s next… what else there is beyond the old ways I knew and once followed, which are no longer really viable for me.

Of course, I need to factor in that I’m dealing with the following TBI-complicating issues:

[x] Agitated, can’t settle down – Suddenly, I’m feeling like I need to change everything in my life, and I just can’t seem to chill out. My restless mind keeps racing and racing and racing, and it feels like there’s no end in sight.
[x]  Angerrrrrr!!! – Still a lot of residual anger over the project that just finished.
[x]  Anxiety – Feeling vague fear, worry, anticipation of doom – Yes, it does feel like the whole world is coming down around my ears, and everything is going to go up in smoke, before I know it. I feel like I have to DO SOMETHING to fix what’s wrong, but even the fixes I have in mind feel like they’re doomed.
[x]  Depression, feeling down – Yeah, that. I know I’m tired, and that doesn’t help, but still, I feel so depressed and down… I just want to crawl under a rock. Or hit the road and just keep driving.

Through it all, I need to stay mindful of my state of spirit, and I need to keep in mind that TBI does not help when things get dicey at work and at home. It complicates everything, and at the same time, it lies to me, telling me the problem is OUT THERE, rather than being something “in here” that needs special accommodation in my mind — even if I can’t get it in the world. I have to remember these 84 ways TBI can make your life really interesting , and not let them take over and get the better of me.

And I have to keep things simple. Grounded. “Centered” as my friends would say.

I need to just settle in and get used to living in this new country. I’ve been alternately resisting it and accepting it for several years, now, and it feels like I’ve been living in a new house without unpacking all of the boxes. It’s like this new house is smaller than the house I used to live in, it’s more compact, it has less room for the things I used to love, and I’ve boxed myself in even more by keeping the containers that hold the things I used to love and do so easily before. I’ve got to start taking out some of those old boxes and give myself more room to move. And I need to really start getting to know the new country where I live.

I think, realistically, I have been doing that deliberately over the past 5 years, but the deeper I get into my life experience and the more closely I look at my life, the more I realize just how much things have changed. To this day, nobody around me seems to really understand what that means, or how dramatically it has altered my experience in life. Even my spouse and my close relatives don’t seem to get it — and they just want to forget the TBI ever happened. And my neuropsych, too, seems to be so focused on keeping my mood and attitude up and keeping me positive, that there’s not much room for the darkness when we meet.

The darkness is there, however. And there’s no getting away from it all the time. I don’t want to wallow, but sometimes I just have to acknowledge that it’s there.

So, what do I do now? I honestly don’t know. I guess I’ll get on with my day and take care of the things I need to take care of. Pay attention to the things that bring me joy and look for things that boost my energy and make my days full of light. There are many ways to look at things, and it’s my choice, how I approach them. Now I’m choosing to approach my life as though I’ve moved to a new country, and I am gaining deeper knowledge about what it’s like to live here. Like other different locales I’ve lived in, some things I like better, other things I do not. But it is, well, what it is. And I can choose how I relate to those things.

I also need to start looking for the kind of work that moves me, that stimulates me, and lets me use my best abilities — not remind me of the abilities I’ve lost. I need to find out what that is, and I need to see where I can go with it. But before I can go anywhere, I need to understand what it is I’m looking for.

Not sure if this is making any sense, but I’m going with it. The day is waiting.

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