Boy, it's been a while since I've written a blog post. I've been working through some issues with a therapist and just have not felt the urge to compose one. But it's Thanksgiving, and I want to share something with everyone before you gather around the dinner table with friends and family that you may have not communicated with much throughout the year.
There may come a time, when someone shares their struggles with you. Be it a death in the family, an illness or injury (temporary or permanent), job or relationship struggles, or more. Try to stop yourself before saying something we have all said before, "If you need anything, let me know."
I've heard countless variations of that phrase over the last 15 years of dealing with the aftermath of my Traumatic Brain Injury. At first, that is very heart warming to hear that so many people care about me and want to do something to help. But something I've learned, is that the phrase ends up being empty words.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that the people don't want to help. Or that they don't care. But remember, the person you're saying this to is in the middle of a battle and may not know what they need, even if it is obvious to you. They are struggling under the weight of battle and you have now put another task in front of them.
In my case, with something as complex as TBI that affects every single facet of my life, where do I even begin to start at where I need help? Financial, house upkeep, transportation, recreation, or one of the other areas impacted? This is also not a short term issue like recovering from a minor surgery or injury. This is forever. So how much are you willing to take on? What is too much to ask for?
I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I have said this to many people who were struggling over the years. Always with good intentions because I care that they are struggling but don't know how to help. And I believe those that have said it to me are likewise doing so with good intentions. Rare is the person who says it simply because they think it's obligatory.
I have therefore decided that I will try to not use the phrase. Instead, I will try to identify ways I can alleviate the burden and offer the person specific ways that I can help by listening to them and putting myself in their shoes. I encourage others to do the same. In fact, whenever someone says it to me, I will simply point them to this blog post. So if I pointed you to this post, please don't take offense.
Now that my Public Service Announcement is complete I feel compelled to share the one thing for which I am most thankful. My wife, Amanda, who has been in the trenches fighting the TBI right beside me. Her strength, compassion, and love have been instrumental in getting me this far and keeps me pushing myself to be the best I can be.
I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!