"I gave up!"
I used to feel embarrassed for saying this because giving up meant that I had failed to achieve what I had set out to achieve. It was certainly opposed to what I grew up believing and to the lessons I learned from an American culture that stresses the need to "win at all costs." I was also well aware that some people would likely judge me for it. They may feel like I should have tried harder or given it more time, but I am learning to ignore these people, because I have come to believe giving up was necessary for me to move on following a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
When I started recovering from my TBI, my goal was to regain my former self and former life. Because I grew up believing anything was possible with time, hard work, and determination, I was confident I could do it. I could be the same husband. I could be the same father. I could be the same friend. I could have the same personality. I could be the same doctor. I could have the same hobbies.To support my quest, TJIJA (Till Jeff is Jeff Again) shirts were made and worn by my friends and family. But TJIJA never happened.
There are still days I want my former life back, but I finally gave up on it. I admitted I was going to be different, but this was just the beginning step. I also had to learn to accept it, and this has been a process. Learning to accept and embrace my "new normal" has been an experience that has not only been humbling, but life changing and life giving as well.
After my TBI, trying to return to my old self proved to be a never-ending, tireless, exhausting, and fruitless journey. But I finally gave up on it. Giving up wasn't easy for me to do, but without doing that, the process of accepting and embracing the new me could have never started.