If there is one thing that my brain has not stopped doing and perhaps has begun doing more of, although I didn’t think it was possible, it is thinking. Really. It sounds silly, but I think more. Maybe it’s because things take me a little longer to process. Maybe it’s because my thoughts have changed. Maybe it’s because my perspective has changed. Whatever the reason, I am happy to sit quietly in my mind and own my thoughts. Own my feelings, my actions, my words, the good and the bad. There is a risk of this behavior. A risk of sitting in the past, staying in the past, reveling in regret. However, there is also a blessing in this behavior. My blessing and enlightenment this week? Owning my words.
In the beginning of the brain injury, I had some very typical severe brain injury behaviors. It’s a good thing I was in the hospital the first 4 weeks and that my parents kept me under constant supervision over the next few weeks. Although we joked, I literally did not have a filter. Ha. Like at all. I called my speech therapist at the hospital some pretty interesting names (which I can share with you privately if you need to know). I have no memory of doing this and she was certainly not any of those things. She was an awesome person. The bitterness and anger is something that some people with TBI never lose. I was blessed to not suffer long term from that. But the language, oh my. I have NEVER ever sworn that much in my life! It would come out and I would look around like “did that all just come out of my mouth?”
As I have learned and studied more and more about brain injury, I have learned that an injury of this magnitude can cause physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral effects. In reality, my prognosis was bleak. The idea that I would one day be walking, feeding myself, talking, let alone blogging, was not even a thought in those first few days. My mom has described that they just wanted me to open my eyes. The longer a patient remains in a coma, or their LOC (loss of consciousness) the more severe the problems. Longer than 24 hours is severe, so although I was above that time range, given what they saw they were surprised with the time frame which I awoke. After talking with my mom recently, I learned that she was in the room with me the first time I opened my eyes. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think she was often not in my room. Amazing. Despite what the scans showed, I was responsive. Although I did not know where I was, I had my long term memory of things like my children’s names. Each day, the doctor would be surprised and ecstatic with my progress. As I mentioned before, the anger and bitterness only lasted a few days, my mom said my mood was good and I was nice and very talkative (shocker I know). 🙂 I was able to recognize people and I remembered the day before the accident with clarity. All indicators that my recovery would be better than what was originally thought. I digress… Focus, Sandra, focus. 🙂 … sorry.
Hearing and sharing these details helps me. It keeps me humble. The fact that my mom had to watch me take 10 minutes to try and stick my tongue out for the first time makes me realize that successfully running a mile pales in comparison. That’s not to say that I cannot care about running, but I cannot let it ruin me. I cannot be miserable. I have had to fight. Fight so hard. I have had to suffer. Despite that, I have had such happiness. I have had such bliss.
Back to where this started…owning my words. I have written before about what parenting means to me. It is such a huge and awesome responsibility. => Learning, Growing, Living with Intention
The second part of parenting, which became very clear this past weekend, is the power of the words I say to my children. Pastor Kevin talked about Wisdom for Words on Mother’s Day. He was discussing that as an authority, your words matter. “Whenever you have authority, your words have gravity.” He could have used the word weight there. Essentially what he was saying was that your words have influence, that they weight our children, with either positive, encouraging words, or weight them with negative thoughts. Yet as I began to really think about gravity, gravity is actually a force. A force that pulls things towards it. To be specific, gravity is “The natural force of attraction exerted by a celestial body, such as Earth, upon objects at or near its surface, tending to draw them toward the center of the body.” The breakdown: A natural force – as a parent your gravity is a natural force. You didn’t ask for it necessarily but as a parent you were naturally given it. Your child was put in your atmosphere. You are the “celestial body” that has a “natural force” of attraction. So what type of force are you attracting with? What type of gravity are you displaying to your children? Gravity can be good or bad. Either way though, it’s still gravity. It is still going to pull them, you are their atmosphere, you are drawing them to you. This is where your words or lack of words have such a huge effect. If you are putting negative words, disapproving, ridiculing, hurtful words into your atmosphere, they are directly affecting your child. You are the natural force that is pulling them into how they view life, how they form beliefs, how they process their feelings. On the opposite side, what happens if you are putting positive, affirming, supportive, loving words into your atmosphere? What an amazing thought! What if their atmosphere is guided by positivity? What if you are pulling them into the center of a life filled with affirmation and appreciation? Really think on that.
PK also said that what you say in that moment, at that exact time, is going to form your child. Can you think of something that someone said to you as a child that you have never forgotten? Something that you still believe about yourself? That is the power of words. To paraphrase PK – words are either sobering or encouraging and everybody is responsible for how they use their words. Your words can build up or tear down, cause destruction. You can crush a child. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this. Yes I know, shocking again. How am I doing with my words? What does my atmosphere look like? What are my kids learning about themselves through that atmosphere?
This is the video that played and I would like to share it with you all.
Since the brain injury, in life and towards my kids, I have been more negative, more impulsive, less able to control my feelings and words. As time has gone on, I have come to recognize the behaviors which were once unrecognizable to me. I now understand that while the brain injury may have caused the initial changes in my atmosphere, it is up to me to change those habits. Maybe something that happened in your life changed your atmosphere too. Maybe it was abuse, job loss, abandonment, divorce, being a child of divorced parents, a tragedy, a trauma, or maybe something far less easy to pin point. However, you own your atmosphere. You are a “celestial body” with an atmosphere all its own. The definition of an atmosphere is an “envelope surrounding a celestial body…retained by the celestial body’s gravitational field.” My translation – your atmosphere, your envelope of influence surrounding your life, is “retained” by you, by your gravity. It is maintained by you, it is kept or held by you. Life will throw meteor showers (circumstances) that will interrupt your atmosphere, but only you retain your atmosphere. What kind of an atmosphere are you going to retain? My kids and I talk about our “bubble” as our indicator of personal space and that way if we don’t want anyone right near us, we can say without harsh words, “please don’t come in my bubble.” And it’s done there. There’s no “but..” or “no…” When they are ready, they will tell you that you can come in their bubble or time will do the inviting. As I am writing this, it occurs to me that it is the same with our emotions as much as our physical proximity. You own your bubble or atmosphere. You decide what words, thoughts, and feelings to allow in and the times that circumstances allow things without your consent, you own the area and are allowed to evict any of those emotions, doubts, feelings.
As a result of all of these ideas and the video of Kevin Queen, I made a poster for Alana. One day, I will do one for Cameron too. I put many of the reasons that I am so thankful for Alana and as I read it, I realized that I was describing the very atmosphere she has around her. Eventually she will have an atmosphere that is completely her own. Until that day, she is an envelope inside my atmosphere. And because my gravity will always pull her to me, it is my responsibility to help her keep these very things in her atmosphere.
None of us are perfect. We will make mistakes. We are always learning and always growing. My challenge – take a look at your atmosphere. Define your atmosphere. What is your force of gravity, your words, your interactions, pulling into your atmosphere? What are your children learning? If you are anything like me, I know there are places that can be better.