Day 21 The Traps of Holding On
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 CHANGE for 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 www.thearmsforces.org or by mailing a check to the address below.
Day 21 The Traps of Holding On
I heard a story the other day about the difficulty of catching Ringtailed Monkeys in Africa for zoos around the world. They do not fall prey to more conventional methods of trappings, so a more creative approach was needed. Right about now, you are thinking that you have accidentally clicked on the blog for National Geographic! You haven’t!! Hang in there with me for a minute and I will make the segue from monkeys in Africa to traumatic brain injury!
The Zulus on the continent of Africa had to do two very important things before they could even begin to figure out how to trap a Ringtailed Monkey. They had to learn about them and they had to develop a great understanding of them. The Zulus found through their observations, that the Ringtailed Monkey just LOVED a certain melon that was native to the African Continent. The monkeys would spend much time finding these melons and then gnawing at the melon’s outer rind to find their way to, no, not the pulp, but the seeds! They would dig in with their hands and grasp the seeds and devour them for hours on end, going from melon to melon.
So, the Zulus figured out that the melon was what the monkey sought more than anything. The melon became the trap. But it wasn’t enough to just put them out, the monkey would run away and go find a different melon. What they did that worked was to cut a small hole in the top of the melons, the monkey would then come to the melon, reach in for the seeds and grab them. But, how was that a trap you might be asking? The monkey loved the seeds so much that they refused to let go of the seeds. Their balled up fists could not fit through the hole to release them from these large melons. They would scream and fight to get the melon off of their hand, but to no avail. It was more important to hold onto the seeds and remain trapped, than to gently open their fists, let the seeds go and find freedom.
Maybe there is a fear that another melon might not come along, or maybe it is because no one ever taught a monkey how to let go if trapped in a melon. Maybe you can where this story fits in with the life of someone who has a traumatic brain injury, or maybe you still think you are on the National Geographic site!! I want to talk about some of the “trappings” that happen to a TBI survivor after injury.
At some point many survivors reach a point in their rehabilitation where they have to make some tough decisions. We talked a bit about that the other day in “The Art of Good Enough” article. Clinging to the “seeds” in our life after TBI and stuck in our “melon” of thinking like “I used to be able to do that”; “I wish I could still”; If I try harder I will be like I used to be”; “No one will ever love me like this”; “Is my life always going to be like this?”; “I don’t understand me, how will anyone else understand me”; “Is life worth living if I can’t be like I was before”; “I remember when”; “I can’t remember when” prevents us from the freedom to explore a new life, a life that includes traumatic brain injury.
TBI is a life-long chronic disorder (disease, condition). Veterans fought for our freedom and their own freedom during their military service. Many times they return home, into their communities and find themselves the prisoner of a war within their own bodies. A new brain that is fighting amongst itself to figure out how to survive in a post-traumatic brain injury world. The Arms Forces organization understands the battle. We have taken the time , the interest and the care, just like the Zulu Tribe did for the monkeys, to learn about and understand our invisibly wounded veterans. We see their traps and we will do everything we can to ensure that their lives are not stuck in the traps, and gently help them open their lives up to release the seeds that are holding them back from a life that has the opportunity to live free from stigma, free from the bondage of never believing they are “good enough”, free to have a life that includes a degree of comfort, peace, self-esteem, meaningful work, loving relationships and understanding.
I can’t repeat this enough. The journey for a TBI survivor can be one that goes from “extreme adversity to joyful renewal”. I am reminded of that every time I look at my own life. On Tuesday, I will share an article I wrote a few years ago about grieving and traumatic brain injury! I hope you stop by again tomorrow!
Ringtailed monkeys and TBI…….who would have thought????
With open arms,
Founder/President and severe TBI survivor
The Arms Forces
PO Box 981
Maumee, OH 43537