Speech therapists, neurologists, and psychiatrists all agree that I am not insane. They agree that I am not a freak. I have been told that my symptoms are ‘normal for the injury that you suffered’ and ‘time will help you learn to deal with it’ and ‘some things will never get better, but you can get around them,’ and ‘some things will heal, we can’t tell when, time will tell’ and ‘talk about it, go to counseling,’ and other phrases that blend together in a monologue of positivity that is encouraging yet, at the same time, daunting. Because I know that I will never be the same as I was. I know that I have a few ‘issues’ or ‘problems’… Whatever the label, I am a bit different now. It seldom comes out unless you live with me and I have a blackout in front of you and do something a bit ‘off.’ Like lose a telephone for several hours and recruit the household to look for it, only to have one of my daughters find it placed neatly in the freezer with the vegetables. Or think that I went to bed with a severe migraine, get up and walk about the house and have conversations with family members and binge on Twizzlers. I am a healthy woman who seldom eats candy, much less binges on it. I have no memory at all of these blackouts. I have had sex during them and to my dismay, no memory of it later. It is frightening, to make the understatement of the year, to be absolutely not in control of yourself.
These were things that my husband picked on me about. It made me feel so small. I know it is not my fault, but it still cut me deep. The rational side of me can say that it was just him and his personal lack of self-worth. The little girl in me cries and feels less. I forget things a lot. Though I am only thirty-six, I can sympathize with Alzheimer’s sufferers. He picked on me about that a lot. It was never pleasant to have a man that I loved make fun of something I was trying to conquer. When I would cry and he knew that he had pushed me too far, he would hold me and act comforting, but by then it was too late. I was already wounded. I still battle the memory loss demon. I forget words often. He made fun when I would pause, mid-sentence, and forget that I was saying. Completely forget the topic, sometimes just forget the word I was trying to use. ‘Come on… Use your words like a big girl, you can do it.’ And he would laugh as I cried, then ask why I was crying and look as though I had wounded him for spoiling his joke by not understanding its comic genius. He took great pleasure in this. While I have been told it is fairly common with brain injuries of this sort, it made me cry.
In my everyday life, I am fairly normal. It has gotten better over the years. As a single woman, I am just fine. I do not have these little ‘episodes’ every day on a noticeable level. I am very good at covering up. We adapt and overcome our little problems. But I want love. I ardently would have loved to have had a husband to stand by me all of my days, a good man to grow old with. I have resigned myself to the fact that it will not happen. Who would ever want me now? That thought alone is heartbreaking. It is not a lack of self-confidence, it is an ugly truth. While I may still be pleasing to the eye, intelligent, driven to succeed, jovial though reclusive in nature and magnificent in bed, what man would want to dedicate to a woman with the slew of problems that go with the brain injury that I have? I do well at keeping them hidden, but they are there. Sometimes I simply can’t help it, it is beyond my control. This is why I hurt. This is why I cry over the divorce. Because I feel badly about myself, now more than ever before. I feel lonely and afraid. I miss what could have been had he been a good man.
Not to mention how long it takes my heart to heal and how jaded I am. I will date. I currently have a boyfriend. But I fear that I will always hold my heart away, hidden. That no man will want me as a ‘keeper’. That I will have playmates, not a real love.
It is an ugly truth, but I am strong enough to face it. I think that it is going to be me and my cat. And I am strangely alright with this, even if it stings more than just a little bit.