Day 15 TBI Challenge for CHANGE for Veterans
16th Mar 2011 | Posted in: PTSD 1

Day 15- The Art of Good Enough

 Remember!!  The 31 Day TBI Challenge for CHANGE during March, Brain Injury Awareness Month, consists of just two parts:

 1.)    Please learn something new about TBI every day.  We will be posting an article daily on our Facebook and website pages to make it easy for you to learn. Today’s article is below.

 2.)    Help facilitate CHANGE by partnering with The Arms Forces by assisting us in continuing our efforts for invisibly wounded veterans by collecting your CHANGE daily and at the end of March donating the money to The Arms Forces. (contact information below) Create a jar and label it:

“The Arms Forces CHANGEfor TBI” and put it out where you and others will see it.  When someone asks you what it is all about, share with them a bit about what you have learned about TBI.  Share stories of the people you will learn about through our posts on Facebook and how their lives have been forever changed by their injuries.

If collecting change every day is not your thing then be a part of the CHANGE by making a donation to The Arms Forces through our website or by mailing a check to the address below.

Day 15-The Art of Good Enough

Being a perfectionist or anything close is very difficult when you have a traumatic brain injury.  Even if before your injury you were a neat freak, many survivors soon learn that “good enough” is the BEST that is possible.  That may not seem like a big challenge for people who are accustomed to messy drawers or having clothes on the floor, or a kitchen with drawers that have no rhyme or reason.  But for the neat person, who thrives on organization or the person who could get by on 5 hours of sleep, always be on their game, multi-task, and never seem to miss a beat, or the person who could almost speed read and actually comprehend, or the person who could play music, write an article, listen to the children playing close by and feel like they are content and peaceful,  GOOD ENOUGH becomes a burden to bear. 

As I do regularly to make a point, I talk about my life and my recovery.  Of course, we all have learned that each recovery is different, but what I have found is that bits and pieces of each TBI survivor’s journey is similar to others.  I always hope that a survivor will see him or herself in what I write and that it will spark  a thought of  “she gets me” in them.  We talked about understanding the other day and how important that is to a survivor. 

I was not an obsessive-compulsive person before my own injuries, but I was someone who learned the lesson from my grandmother very well “A place for everything and everything in its place”.  Years ago my girlfriends at the time exaggerated when they told me I made my little children put their toys away in alphabetical order, but they were correct in that I wanted the house very tidy, including the toys!!  No reason that Strawberry Shortcake and Mr. Potato Head couldn’t live in the same clean environment that we did as a family!! LOL

I remember the days when my bras ( leave now if you are the least bit uncomfortable with where I am going) were folded perfectly in the drawers.  I would take the bra, put one cup inside the other, tuck the straps in perfectly and line them up in the drawer like toy soldiers!  Ah, they were so neat and tidy.  And, somehow I felt that made my life much better; neat bras, yes that is what life is about.  I had a schedule; there was laundry day, grocery shopping day, I had meals planned for the week; life had order. 

AFTER BRAIN INJURY!!!  What the heck is going on?  I am not just talking about life right after brain injury, I am talking about life years after, life as it is NOW!!  I have learned what so many other survivors learn, “The Art of GOOD ENOUGH”.  Yes, by classifying it as an “art” it has made it so much easier for me to accept!!!

Now, if the bras get washed, dried and smashed in a drawer, that is a SUCCESS.  Cleaning the house, no longer means the baseboards get washed every two weeks.  Laundry day?  Heck, I forget to do the laundry all the time.  I moved from a home with a laundry room on the first floor to one in the basement, so to get me to change the process of walking past the room and triggering a thought of “oh laundry needs to be done” to remembering that out of sight does not mean I don’t have laundry to do, was a whole new “life skill” for me to learn.

Cooking is not just about planning anymore.  It is an entire process that takes a TBI survivor on a path of many processes that have to be given complete attention to be successful.  Do not try to do the laundry while something is on the stove…trust me…not a good idea with TBI.

I want every thing I do to be the best it can be.  I have always been that way.  I, at one time in my life had a different defintion of what my “best” was.  This realization and redefintion of life doesn’t come without tears and sadness.  They are even falling on the keyboard now as I type this as I remember the Pam I used to be.  My TBI brothers and sisters go through so much emotional pain after TBI.  Many of us struggle with grasping “The Art of GOOD ENOUGH”. We fight it because somehow if we let go of what once was, we beleive we will never regain enough to be “good enough” for others in our life.  Ahhh….I hit on something there.  It isn’t always about being good enough for our standards for ourself, but we, TBI survivors feel we are not living up to the standards that our loved ones, our employers, our friends, our doctors have for us.  That is when self-esteem and depression take over.  It finds a way to creep into the insecurities that “good enough” can bring to many of us, and start to poison the core of our self-esteem. 

For many people, good enough has always been enough.  There is nothing wrong with that.  If they would have a TBI, it might not bother them to redefine their defintion of good enough.  But, to others, it can become a roadblock to successful rehabilition into a life of meaning.

If I were to hang on to my perfectionistic ways of the former Pam, I would not be able to do what I do now as the Founder/President of The Arms Forces.  So many loose ends exist;  so much is not perfectly defined in what I do.  If I waited for perfection or funding those that have been helped would not have been.   What a shame that would have been.  After TBI I have found I do a lot on a “wing and a prayer” and as long as my heart is in the right place, I know that some success will come from it.  You learn to count your successes in life a bit differently after TBI.  Small successes lead to bigger successess and then right before your eyes you are creating a life worth living!

Most TBI rehabilitation that I have been invovled with, read about etc, doesn’t talk avout things like this.  My goal is to write a short training session on the “Art of Good Enough for TBI Survivors”.  The military culture brings another challenge to learning this “art” as our veterans have been taught (their life many times depends on it) that precision and perfection is what life is about.  Spiffy uniforms, shiny shoes, rifles perfectly cleaned, language and protocols all based on precision and perfection.  A veteran TBI survivor may have a more difficult time letting go and learning to appreciate “The Art of Good Enough”. 

Without this new “art” in my life, I would be stuck in a world searching for a utopia that I could never achieve.  I would never reach out to attain my new highest level of abilities and I would be stuck in a depression over what I have lost instead of the joy I have with what I have gained.

This is the message of hope and love that I am passionately bringing to as many veterans and their families that I can; There is a path from extreme adversity to joyful renewal and The Arms Forces wants to help you navigate that path!!

With open arms,

Pam Hays

Founder/President and severe TBI survivor

The Arms Forces

PO Box 981

Maumee, OH  43537

419-491-1555 –email

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