Normal Life – Permission to Grieve

I was in the middle of writing another post, when I decided I had to write this one instead. Josh took this picture this weekend while we were running up the St. Vrain Glacier Trail. That little tree is trying so hard, and I couldn’t help but think how much easier life would be if it was in the ground, but we don’t always get to choose our path. This has probably been the easiest blog post to write, and the hardest to actually click “publish”. When it comes right down to it, this post is the whole reason I’m writing this blog, so I had to do it. With mild traumatic brain injury, you can continue to have significant deficits that most people will never see. Several people have commented recently to me or Josh, that they are happy to see me doing so great, assuming that since I can run long distances that I must be recovered. I guess it is all perspective. In the grand scheme of things, I have a wonderful husband, a home, food, supportive friends and family, and I can run. My life is by no means horrible, but it is not the life I had before the crash, and “great” is not exactly how I would describe things.

This week I had a pretty good melt down. Running serves as a good distraction, and it is therapy. It helps me cope with things, and it also has helped my recovery. It keeps me from thinking about things, and a lot of the time I tend to ignore the bigger picture of how much our lives have changed. Every once in a while though, some little thing will happen that will be a big reminder. This week that came in the form of a text message I received from a friend. She asked if I wanted to come over to the lake to play on the paddle boats and listen to the concert. It sounded like a great way to spend a nice summer evening…except that I remembered that it wouldn’t be a great way for me to spend the evening. The rocking boat, the crowds of people, the music…all of it would make me feel terrible. And so I cried. I cried thinking about all the fun spontaneous little things I can’t do.  I cried thinking that it has been almost a year, and I was supposed to be fine months ago. I cried thinking that I have no idea when, and if, I will be “normal”.

Feeling horrible after navigating the talus, and realizing I don't have it in me to cross the river.
Feeling horrible after navigating the talus, and realizing I don’t have it in me to cross the river. I had to just sit down on the rocks for a few minutes before we turned around. – St. Vrain Glacier Trail.

When my friends are all going out for drinks, and then an interesting lecture or a movie, or a concert, I want to be able to say “Sure, that sounds fun”. I want to go to a wedding, and not spend most of the reception hiding upstairs in a quiet room. I want to be able to watch fireworks on the 4th of July again, instead of hiding in my neighbor’s basement waiting for it to be over. I want to be able to get on a plane and travel with my husband, or drive myself up in the mountains to climb a peak. There is frustration, sadness, fear, loneliness, and so many other emotions.

I feel a little like that tiny tree in the rock, just holding on, and very slowly inching my way up. I try to focus on how far I’ve come, and all the things I can do now that I couldn’t do 11 months ago. The progress has been slow, but there is still progress. There is a part of me that feels very guilty for being sad, as there are many people with bigger problems than not getting to have their “normal” life. But I miss the life I had, and I’m giving myself permission to grieve for what I have lost.

48 days until RRR 100, and only 3 big training weekends left.  Eek!!

One thought on “Normal Life – Permission to Grieve

  1. Hi, l ran across your blog on Facebook this morning and have since then shed a lot of tears, tears I thought I’d moved beyond. You might not remember me, I was a critical care nurse when you were at CSU. A little over a year ago l had a stroke and while our stories are different, there are a lot of similarities, especially regarding living with a brain injury in a world that doesn’t fully grasp the daily challenges. I’m not big into participating on social media, but couldn’t help but post this. If you were ever interested in talking via email or phone or something, let me know.
    Thanks for your time. 😊

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