"Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel."
- Eleanor Browwn
I am NEEDY! At first, this realization evoked a lot of guilt and embarrassment. I viewed it as an unwelcome character flaw. But this was before coming across a list of "common characteristics of TBI survivors" and discovering the term "egocentricity," a word I wasn't familiar with at the time. It was defined as "having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things" It frequently occurs after a traumatic brain injury because of the significant amount of energy it requires to perform the everyday activities that were once second nature. The amount of effort it takes to function forces survivors to center their attention on themselves which all comes at the expense of others. All of this described me, and as I thought some more about the word egocentricity. I concluded it was just a fancier way of saying "needy." So, maybe I didn't need to be ashamed of my neediness, because as a TBI survivor, it is to be expected.
In an attempt to erase the guilt and embarrassment, I started to entertain a thought provoking, albeit strange, question. "Would it be possible to embrace this "expected neediness" and use it to fulfill my new purpose?" But before I could answer it, I would first have to clarify exactly what that purpose was.
After evaluating all the aspects of my "new normal," I felt my purpose was to serve others. I know this may sound cliche, but I feel I can do this by sharing my story of traumatic brain injury with others. To do this and do it well, I will need rest, quiet, alone time, structure, schedules, reminders, etc. In other words, I will need a whole lot.
Neediness is something I have chosen to accept. I am learning that by serving others, it is possible to maintain the difficult balance required to keep me from becoming the self-centered narcissist I fear becoming. Service is a way of stepping outside of myself to see that the world is not centered around me. It has been humbling to admit, but I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to serve others, I need to be "needy."
*** Parts of this post were taken and adapted from www.changedlivesnewjourneys.com/egocentricity-its-not-really-all-about-me-its-all-about-the-brain-injury