Dear old me,
I miss you.
I cannot count the number of times people have thrown deterrence my way.
"You should learn to accept it."
"Don't you think you should be better by now?"
"Don't you think it's all just stress-induced?"
These statements all have an underlying message: get over it and move on already. How I wish I could scream until others understood that it is not that simple.
Experiencing a loss of identity, as many people with Post-Concussion syndrome do, is incredibly hard to confront. You cannot live as someone for 20 years and then suddenly forgo that person for a new one that you do not recognize. It's as if the moment I fell down that flight of stairs, my life, and my entire being split in two: pre-accident and post-accident. Both versions are entirely different from one another and near impossible to amalgamate.
Yet, these two competing versions of myself are well aware of one another. It would be one thing to wake up as a new person or with a new personality with no recollection of your prior self. But, the problem is, I remember you.
I remember a time where we were more sociable. We loved to study with friends in coffee shops, laugh and catch up over a good meal, and text our friends 24/7. Our best friend was practically attached at the hip at one point in time.
I miss the lattes, the patio season drinks, and that feeling of closeness that once made us whole. We detested being alone and now it seems that solace is all I can tolerate.
I remember our passion for school that would drive us to study all day long. We were so determined to achieve our dreams of going to law school. Every minute of studying was one minute closer to making that dream a reality.
Now that dream feels father then it ever has. Studying does not bring the joy and drive it once did. I struggle to motivate myself without you by my side. What if I am not meant to go down the path we had planned together alone?
I am not sure of who I am or how to define myself without you. Do I let go of the qualities that I prized in you in lieu of a new, undefined me? Is it even possible to incorporate some of you into this new version of me? Would you even want that? Or would that be a betrayal of the 20 years we spent together?
There are many aspects of you that I yearn for daily. However, I admit, there are some things about the new me that I like I think you would like them as well.
I have never appreciated the little moments and accomplishments more than I do now. Waking up to a blue sky out my window is enough to make me smile for a great deal of the day. One of my dad's jokes at the breakfast table fills the room with joy and laughter like it never had before. Even ten minutes without a headache is something to be thankful for. I promise to continue this new outlook on life, no matter where this journey takes me.
I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. Each day in recovery has been a battle in one way or another. Every day I fight to learn about my condition, advocate for answers, and persevere through the pain I experience. Each day I prove that
I am a fighter, and for that, I am proud.
The uncertain nature of PCS treatment has made me more determined than ever before. I think you may have some of this fire too, but now I use it to advocate for myself. I will not give up until I find the answers. I have the new me to thank for this redirected flame.
These alterations do not mean that I have forgotten you. On the contrary, I remember you each day. I see your absence in my phone's empty message app that I cannot will myself to use anymore. I see the ghost of you when I must take breaks during my daily activities. I see you, in your full and unrestricted essence, in my dreams at night. Or rather, my nightmarish reminders of what used to be. I see you. I have not forgotten you. How could I?
Deep down in my heat, I know that we can never truly be fully reunited again. Even when the symptoms finally fade, and I have faith that they will one day, you will not be present. And, it is because of this realization that I grieve. I mourn for the person that does not exist anymore and will never truly exist again. For I did not only lose time, innocence, and friends in that one instant I slipped; I lost you as well.
I have hope that I will not lose every aspect of your being, however. I believe that I can and will fight to incorporate some pieces of you into the new me. Maybe it would be more of a loss to forget you entirely and leave all your beautiful qualities behind. Now, I can promise to live to make you proud.
So, we just have to take a vacation from one another for a while. For how long, I do not know. I have hope that my daily glimpses of you will fuel me. I have hope that perhaps one day I may crave friendship and company again. If I do not, I know that there are so many other beautiful parts of me that do and will demand to be heard.
Rest well, my old friend. May we meet again someday.