Last year

Have you ever felt hopeless and angry because your life has not been going the way your life was planned? I was that way last year. At this time last year I was sitting in the county jail, depressed and lonely, and trying so hard to stay positive. I was angry at family, angry at myself, and angry at the person that was responsible for me being there. I was hopeless because I didn’t know how long I would be there (it wound up being 4 months).

What did u do during this time that helped lessen the anger and hopelessness? I prayed and I read the Bible. I stayed busy reading, and I began writing a book on how to stay positive during times of trouble.

Now while these things may not work for everyone, I found it most helpful to write. I wrote poetry and other reflections while there because I couldn’t talk to my cell mates about what I was going through. I was unable to talk to my children. But I was able to talk to some family, and some friends that were there for me. I received lots of letters and cards during this time as well.

Right now my life is still not where I want it to be, but it has improved because of the friends I have, the ones who are amazingly there for me even through the mistakes I have made. That is a true friend, one who is there for you through the good and the not so good.

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Understanding

The skill of understanding, whether it is a concept or another person, is something we all need to learn. However, many of us have difficulty with true understanding others because we do not have empathy, the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s life to truly know what they are feeling.

I have undergone many experiences in life, much like you, but our experiences will differ greatly because of the age we were when the incident occurred and the level of understanding and memory of the event. I have had various forms of mental and physical abuse in my life, but there are forms of abuse that I have not experienced. However, as an abuse survivor, I can empathize with those who have had other forms of abuse. I can let the person know that I can see that they are hurting, and that I am willing to listen and learn more about their experiences if they will let me.

One area where I do not have a great deal of understanding is the recovery process of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) even though i experienced one when i was 2 1/2 years old. The reason for my lack of understanding is because even though i experienced a TBI, my recovery from it was quite different had I been older when it occurred. I have many friends who have experienced TBI as a teen or an adult who still have some major difficulties learning and accepting who they have become. I, on the other hand, have never known anything different because I have no memory of the person I was prior to 2 1/2 years old. It is very rare for someone to have a true memory prior to that age. But other TBI survivors have had long and productive lives prior to their experiences. They miss the person that they were prior to their experiences. Some survivors were medical doctors, lawyers, and other types of professionals, including business owners, prior to their experiences.

So how does all this fit in to our ability to understand, our ability to empathize, with others? Even though I experienced a TBI, much like many other people, my recovery was different than those who had their TBI later in life. My recovery included physical therapy, just like many other people, but I had already relearned how to walk, talk, and eat by the time I remember any significant events. Because my family lived two hours away from the nearest hospital that could provide the necessary physical therapy I needed, the doctors prescribed daily swimming to strengthen my body and mind. Other forms of therapy included playing video games on the Atari system to help with my hand/eye coordination. I also learned how to ride a horse an sc a bicycle to help with my balance. And I have read probably thousands of books since I was a child. Reading helped me with my comprehension. I did lots of word puzzles, and I a li so played Scrabbled frequently. What do I do nowadays? I play Words with Friends, a long with Candy Crush, since those games help me immensely. I also do sudoku puzzles.

So, even though I do not have the same understanding of what an older survivor might be going through in their recovery from their TBI, I can understand the work it takes to get past the bumps in the road.

Can you show understanding to a person even though you have not experienced what they have gone through? YES YOU CAN!!!

Gratefulness

So many things have happened since the new year! Even though two relatives have passed away, I grateful for knowing them and being able to experience their love.

I have sold some of the items I’ve sewn.

And I have a part-time job.

Those are just things that hav happened since the beginning of 2019, but there are so many more things that I am grateful for!

What are things that you are grateful for? I am grateful for the friends that I have, the family that is in my life, the head injury I had as a child, and my life experiences! Without those experiences I would not be the person I am today! Consider both the good and bad things that have happened to you over the years….Even though you have had some bad experience, that event does not have to control your attitude toward life. You can be understanding, and use those bad events to help you help others who are good ng through similar things! You do not have to be vengeful. In fact, as someone who believes in God, I believe that God will make the final judgment, so it is better for you to forgive the person than to seek revenge, because if you seek revenge, you are no better than the person who did you wrong. So, be grateful for the things that have happened to you! You don’t have to be happy about it, but allow yourself to find peace instead of anger.

The fog of life

As we walk through the fog of life
We can barely see what is in front of us.
We work through the struggles
Much like the sun works to break through the fog.
We carefully walk through it,
But failing to take a chance
Is something we should not consider.
We should take the chance
That life will become better!
Taking that chance creates something new
Within us!

Getting through the fog of life is part of our daily purpose. But helping others to get through the fog, being the sunlight in their life, is what life is all about. Many times you ask yourself what your meaning is. Guess what? Your meaning is to help others get through the struggles of each day! Friends will be those that help you through each day, and you will help them through each day as well! It is extremely difficult to get through life alone, with no one to lean on!

Framily (Friendships of those you feel are family)

Friendships are part of what keeps us positive. Without friends to talk to, to have in your life, people you trust, life gets sad and depressing. Without the close personal friends I have, I would not be able to get through the day. Their love and support means everything to me.

A friend of mine, Regan Brown, explained it to me this way: Friends may not be blood family, but they are family nonetheless. They are family that you choose. They are framily.

I value my friends, probably more so than my family, because my friends and I choose each other again and again, every day. Family (sisters or brothers, if you are blessed with them), does not get to choose whether you will be in their life because you are either born into a family or adopted into it. Family may know you, but they do not know who you truly are because even around family you put on an act. Friends, however, you can be completely real with. Friends fully accept you as you are, warts and all. I have several really good friends that I consider them “framily”–friends that become more than family.

Do you have framily?

Valentine’s Day

We usually think that Valentine’s Day is reserved for those who have significant others. To a certain extent this is true. Many times those who are single feel they are looked down upon because they don’t have a date or significant other to spend the day with, but oftentimes it is not that they are being looked down upon, but rather they are anxious or depressed because they are alone.

Thinking about my dad, and several others that have lost their spouses in the last couple years. Couples that were married for over 50 years. My mother died last year, a week before Valentine’s Day, so this is the second Valentine’s Day without her. Dad has already spent several holidays without her, including Easter, Thanksgiving, their anniversary, her birthday, and Christmas. It has been difficult to say the least because I don’t know that he expected to outlive her, but the illness she suffered from had already taken away the person he knew and loved several years ago. But he loved her with all his heart. Will he always grieve the loss of his love, his best friend, his wife? I believe he will always, to some extent, grieve, but he has been dealing with being alone for a year now. He keeps himself busy so that he doesn’t get depressed.

Keeping oneself busy so you can combat depression or anxiety is helpful. I do it myself. My children have been living with someone else for over a year now. They are living with family, but it still hurts that they are not with me, that I am not taking care of them, but they know that I would gladly be taking care of them if I could.

What do I do to keep my depression and anxiety at bay? I do creative things, like sewing, writing, drawing, and doing research. My dad goes outside to do projects such as mowing, playing games on his computer, and watching TV. We each have our own ways of dealing with things.

So, what does this have to do with Valentine’s Day? Remember those that have been unable to share with those that have been in their lives forever. They will likely be depressed that they don’t have their spouse to spend the day with. Those that are only single, those that have not lost a loved one, will have a different perspective than those who have spent their lives loving someone.

Does it mean that you cannot be sad that you are alone on February 14th? No, but keep it in perspective, think about how much more difficult it is for those who have experienced the death of a loved one that they want to spend time with. If you are single, do something special for yourself! Pray for those who don’t have someone to share with use of an illness or death. It really makes you reconsider that being single on Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates love, is not that bad.

Changing directions

I have always felt a need to help others, whether it is through listening and offering advice, or just being there for someone. However, in the last few years my life has changed in many ways, and I’m having to alter the way I can help others. This last year I wrote and published a book about his to stay positive in difficult times. Why did I do this? Because I knew with the troubles I have had, that I could not pursue the particular line of work I had been trying to do, to become a counselor. But I knew that I still could help others with the knowledge and wisdom that I had.

Now, however, I am changing course yet again. Yes, I am continuing to write. But I am also learning that I enjoy some creative hobbies that could be helpful to others in different ways! I enjoy sewing. This past Christmas I had no money to spend on gifts. The one thing I did have, however, was plenty of fabric, because I have made curtains, quilts, clothes, and many other items over the years. So, what did I do? I made bags for Christmas gifts! It kept me occupied, and it helped to know that I was doing something to help my nieces, nephews, and children. So now I am changing directions again, although I am still helping others! Some of the proceeds from the sale of these bags will go toward mental health organizations! I am making useful things AND helping in other ways!

Sometimes finding a new direction in your life is what you need to do!