Relationship Perspectives

Brain Injury Blog

Relationship Perspectives 

by Janelle Breese Biagioni

To gain a perspective is to gain another point of view. In a relationship, it is important that we try to understand where the other person is coming from or where they are at in their life. Seeking to understand first before being understood is a challenge for most people, but if you can approach a situation from this angle, I guarantee you will gain a new perspective.

Over the years, and it certainly was my experience too, family members have expressed how their loved one changed following a brain injury. There are medical reasons why the person’s personality has changed, but the experience will change the person as well. Not only does the person with a brain injury change because of the experience, but every person in the family will be changed too.

I changed. My children changed. We had too. The roles in our family changed and therefore, not only did how we relate to him change, but how we related to one another changed. My husband no longer related to me as his wife… I was his caregiver, nurse, legal advocate and service coordinator. Our children had to assume tremendous responsibility in helping me get him through the day. He was not able to be the father that he had been prior to the accident. Did it mean he loved us less? Absolutely not! Did it mean that any of us had control over the change? No. It did mean that we had to find a new way to relate to each other, but to do so we needed to understand who we had become. That’s the difficult part.

The questions below are important to ask yourself. You may find them painful to answer. You may be surprised at how you feel and to learn that you have not acknowledged those feelings. Don’t judge when you answer the questions. Be honest. Before you can move forward in the new life you have with your loved one, you have to acknowledge the life you had, say goodbye to the life you had and then hello to the life you have. It’s the same for them.

Before you answer the questions, set a plan to take care of yourself as this exercise may bring up deep emotions for you. Do you have a friend that you can call after for support? Do you have a quiet place to sit and reflect on your feelings? Can you take some time to ease back into your daily routine after answering these questions?

Here are the questions: 

  • Do you think that the experience of your loved one sustaining a brain injury has changed you? If so, how?
  • Do you think that you relate to your loved one differently? If so, how?
  • Has your role in the family changed since your loved one was injured? If so, how?
  • Do you feel trapped waiting for life to go back to what it had been prior to your loved one’s injury?  If so, how?
  • Do you find joy in life today? If so, what brings you joy? If not, can you commit to finding one thing every day that brings you joy and focus on that?
  • Are you a happy person? What makes you happy? How do you make others happy?

Make a list of each family member and write down three things that you love about them… make a point of telling them at least one of the things that you love.

Finally, give yourself permission to seek support from someone who will understand what you are experiencing and will not judge you for your feelings. Talk about how you feel and begin to identify what you need to do to move forward in your relationship.

August 15, 2011

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