I have many friends who live far away as I relocated years ago. But they are amazing friends that although we rarely see each other, when we do it’s like we only saw each other yesterday. And they mean the world to me. But when I was first injured I didn’t let on to them how badly I was affected. I suppose I wanted them to think of me the way I was, not the broken confused mess I had become. Perhaps that was egotistical of me. Also I thought I was doing them a favour. They were so far away they couldn’t do much anyway. So I thought it would just be something they would worry about that they didn’t need. But actually I have realised that maybe I was being unfair.
I bottled it all up.
Whilst you are used to me being very honest with you about my experience, it wasn’t always like this. I’d gone from this confident, self assured woman, to a babbling, twitching mess. I used to enjoy how people would value my opinion on things and ask me for advice. But suddenly I had nothing to offer, so I just sent out the message that I had survived a car accident. That’s it. Whilst they were all thinking “That was a close shave” they didn’t know this was much worse than just whiplash.
But my friends were devastated I didn’t ask for help.
My friend H (I don’t know if she minds being named) when I first started this blog sat down and read 5 articles in one go. These were the ones that really lay out the initial struggle of my brain injury. H found herself crying that I had faced that without my closest friends. Previously I wrote in Relationships vanish magnifying the trauma of brain injury about what it’s like to find some people aren’t in your life anymore as they can’t deal with the change. And there are some people who fall into this category who I can guarantee don’t read this blog. But actually H and some others would have bent over backwards for me, if I had let them. I was busy thinking how I had nothing to give, but H just wanted to help, not take anything in return.
Don’t put words in other people mouths.
I had misjudged the situation altogether. Maybe that was because I under valued myself. I knew H was an amazing person, as are the few friends I still have keep in touch with in the South West of England. But we had never faced a test like this, and as life moves on, I assumed this broken me wouldn’t fit anymore. But since I have opened up I have seen that I was wrong. Life is a journey that never stops shaping us. So just because we change, it doesn’t mean others won’t still like us. H says there are facial expressions that I don’t pull anymore, but that could just be that I’ve grown up rather than the brain injury.
H likes to try to spread happiness and make others smile even when she feels like crying herself. And this is what makes her special. So H, I’m sorry I didn’t let you in earlier. Just having another person to share this with would have been what I needed, but I thought I was being selfless by not.
I’m telling you this because I don’t want others to make the mistake I did. As I explained in Relationships vanish magnifying the trauma of brain injury , many of us do find some can’t cope. Don’t automatically think people don’t want to know the details or can’t help. It’s not even that anyone has to do anything in particular, it’s just knowing they are there for you. If there is someone you haven’t spoken to in a while who never had the full details of your experience, maybe trying reaching out to them. You might be surprised. You have nothing to lose, and perhaps a lot to gain.