There was no bang, no crash, only blackness on a sunny afternoon.
People milling around me. Why won't my eyes open?
Am I in a hospital? How? Why? Nausea. Headaches.
Words that trip over each other.
Legs take me out of here! Why won't you move?
Someone said head injury, a fall.
Injured...head injured. Funny, I don't remember.
If I could only get back to work I would be normal again.
Co-workers say I'm not the same. It's me! I am in here! You know me!
Co-workers, friends, family fades. Why?!
I am trying so hard! Can't you see it?
Alone. A freak. "Lazy." "Malingering." "Nothing wrong. No willpower."
"Shouldn't you be better by now? After all it's been so long."
Have Doctors, Lawyers, Salespeople ALWAYS taken advantage of me?
Anxious about going out. Not knowing what I'll do or say.
Knowing smiles from others, "She's a little strange you know,"
they confide with mock consolation, or outright disdain.
Are they friends or patronizers? I don't really know.
Anguish. Fear. Frustration. Dependence. I cannot bear this life.
I cannot endure. I will end it. Life is gone anyway.
Others? You mean there are others? Like me?
Rehabilitation. You can help me understand?
Acceptance. A strange, marvelous, wonderful word.
Support. Encouragement, when I thought no one was there.
I can't go back, but I can go forward.
I know myself as I am now and like the face I see in the mirror.
I know that I am not alone, and know that not being perfect is okay.
Letting go of outdated expectations
and accepting my new limitations without loss of self-esteem,
pacing myself to make the most of the energy I have left,
knowing I don't have to educate everyone or anyone about head injury
(others' ignorance does not diminish me).
Shifting my focus to what I have and can do,
instead of what is lost to me forever,
that no amount of willpower will ever bring back,
is replacing anguish with joy, and loss with peace.
At long last.
July 16, 1990
Stephanie St. Claire