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New Beginnings after Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog 

New Beginnings

by Rosemary Rawlins

It’s still January, still the beginning of a new year. The time of year we all get a do-over. People make promises to start over: lose weight, exercise more, get that promotion, or spend more time with family. They make these promises because they choose to. They make them because they want to.

In 2002, after Hugh was struck by a car and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, our family was forced to start over because of an accident.

Hugh lost the very aspects of himself that defined him: his ability to participate in sports, his ability to do his job, his role as financial provider for his family, and the confidence that he was a strong and capable man worthy of a family’s love. As his caregiver, I reminded him constantly that he was loved more than ever, that he was not only a business executive and an athlete; he was a loving husband, father, son, and friend.  After facing that he could no longer perform the executive job he had spent his entire life working to achieve, he was severely shaken. I sat with him as a neuropsychologist advised us to “take some time at home to grieve for our old life and start a new one.”

Hard news.

Starting over—not because we wanted to, but we had to, in order to move forward.

Sometimes the hardest news is what’s needed the most. We had to let go. We had to stop feeling stuck in bitterness and anger over the accident. We had to stop “missing” our old life so we could get down to business and start a new life.

In a way, we were newlyweds again, on a strict budget, and getting to know each other in our new circumstances.

I returned to school and shared fresh knowledge with Hugh who lapped it up. Hugh returned to the gym and worked out to gain strength. We encouraged each other. We accepted help from our family and friends. Hugh began to notice aspects of our family life he had never witnessed because he was in the office: his daughters arriving home from school in the afternoon, the rhythm of a domestic day at home, the simple joys of living. Our spirits lifted as he made slow progress and we celebrated our cherished friendships and connection to others more than ever before.

Just shy of two years after his brain injury, Hugh returned to work full-time, an almost unheard of feat for someone with his severity of brain injury. Part of his success is due to his ability to say, “The past is past, what happened, happened. I will deal with my new reality one day at a time to the best of my ability and I will enjoy the present moment.”

Starting over can seem impossible—but it is possible, and it may even prove enjoyable. So, here’s to new beginnings, and knowing they can occur any time of year if we open our hearts and minds to the possibilities before us.

Rosemary has written a book, Learning by Accident, chronicling her family’s experiences after her husband suffered a TBI; to find out more about it, click here.

Rosemary Rawlins

Rare Compositions, LLC

rorawlins@gmail.com
www.rosemaryrawlins.com