February Greetings

When I wrote last, I talked about living with traumatic brain injury and a little about the circumstancesthat left me with TBI. 

My TBI is the result of Random Violence. I think it’s important to talk about each idea separately.

Random: I’m a planner My guess is that most people plan their day to a certain extent. What needs to get done; when to buy groceries; what to have for dinner. Ordinary stuff, the stuff we take for granted. I was walking down a street I’d been on many times just thinking about what to have for dinner. I was thinking about eating lamb shanks cooked in a red wine sauce.  when a stranger attacked me. I was a stranger to him too. 

If I’d walked down another street, or the same street at a different time, or so many other scenarios, maybe I’d never know that random, unintentional, arbitrary things just happen and then life can change in a fraction of a second. Plan, I think, are just hopeful sketches; a nod to an unknowable future moment. 

 I didn’t have lamb shanks that night.

Violence: In my life, violence was mostly something I watched on the news, read about in books or talked about with people who had suffered from some form of violence.  I was appalled and heart sick by the destruction of lives and communities due to violence, but I didn’t have visceral knowledge.  And then I was beaten with a hammer, and in my body, I felt, with a terrifying certainty, that I was facing death.

After violence entered me, so did a visceral knowing of brutality and cruelty, 

Violence bores into the brain, and so I stay on alert in case something…an unknown something…happens and since I’m protecting against the unknown, I have to protect against everything.

Violence bores into the muscles, and they become taut from being watchful and from gripping whatever is nearby to brace myself against ?????

Violence bores into relationships because part of me is broken and afraid. I become preoccupied with watchfulness. The protection I wrap around myself is not permeable; it’s a barrier.

After violence entered me, I viscerally understood how violence, brutality, and cruelty, surrounds us. I felt how the workplace is so often riddled with violent acts. Employers or supervisors who treat those others like chattel; coworkers who traffic in gossip. I knew that workplaces could be harsh and absent simple kindness and generosity. Now I realized that these were forms of violence, retaining and confining the spirit and damaging the nervous system

Since violence became part of my life, there have been over 100 mass shootings in the U.S.  I’m ashamed that I can’t remember the locations of each; I can’t remember the names of the people shot by police. The numbers of people who are victims of violence is estimated in the millions each year.

After violence entered me, the hate filled comments of politicians and others. I felt, feel, like a form of violence. Demeaning individuals and dismissing whole communities as worthless, is a form of brutality.

I know I am now part of a huge, mostly invisible, emotionally vulnerable, community of people. I hope that this blog can serve as one forum for telling stories and feeling less isolated. 

I don’t know what your refrigerator is like. Mine too often has food in the back of the shelves that overtime get moldy and smelly. The things on the back shelves need air and light. Feelings anger and isolation also need air and light. 

You are welcome to share your perspective or to contact me. 

Let’s talk again in March.

JoAnne

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