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“Ground Control to Jessica”

After my brain injury I stopped writing. I stopped a lot of things. Some for medical reasons, some for depression reasons, and some for reasons I’m still figuring out. And then all the pandemic reasons. Ugh.

Between the healing from my TBI and the pandemic I’ve perceived the loss of my mission as a parent, professional, and prose writer. Mostly...I lost confidence in all “the things.” I watched friends on Facebook start crafting careers, dabble in new hobbies, begin workouts and find ways to navigate life despite restrictions in place. My envy stopped me in my tracks. I froze... just taking up space in the void of uncertainty.

On top of that, I learned I was pregnant right at the start of the Covid 19 crisis. My pregnancy kept me parked on the very couch I’m still spending most of my time. Bedrest, fear of contracting Covid, and parenting took a toll on my motivation to move through any motions for growth...for anything.

From my couch, dented from my weight, I read/listened to parenting books, step family books, verbal and physical abuse books, books about reparenting yourself, and books about self discovery post trauma. What the hell was I thinking? That shit is far too heavy to consume when the air is already so thick with a global pandemic, political unrest and personal strife. Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown only occupied a fraction of my reading. I wasn’t ready to feel lifted up perhaps.

Recently, I’ve been hearing David Bowie‘s moody Space Oddity play in the background of my neurodivergent brain. David Bowie wants me to get my shit together. Or maybe it’s me. Or maybe David Bowie sees me in space unable to contact Ground Control. Regardless, I’m lost a little.

The difference between months ago and today is how very much I want that lost feeling to change. I have goals— I’m going back to school to gain my masters in Family and Community Studies. I’ve patiently spent hours working with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on applications and mounds of paperwork (not a fast process at all). I’m awaiting approval. I’ve grieved the loss of what my brain was and accepted what it is now. I figured out how my vision changed after the accident (Pssst I have no aim now). I’ve completed paperwork I avoided. I’ve figured out how to dip my toes back into reality. I permit pretty metaphors to float in my head and I sometimes write out loud without a word hitting the page.

I even went to a public, albeit socially distanced, event for Easter. I’m still conducting most of my life from the comfort of my couch... it’s serving as my vessel as I navigate next steps with my phone or computer and notebooks full of to do lists. The baby serves as my copilot— sweetly distracting me from tasks. I remember when I used to have at least 12 projects queued up. Now I’m lucky to have 3.

My health demanded I take a pause. One I needed to take ages ago when I worked 3 jobs. I’m learning my decades of trauma have contributed to a delay in brain repair. And that admission doesn’t mean I should be shifted into boxes labeled “Poor Thing” “Hot Mess” “Too Much” “Mentally Ill” “Not Successful” “Another Statistic” “At Least I’m Not Her.”

What I’ve learned while floating through space is I’m unfairly put into those boxes by others and even myself. Those are labels we assign people when we can’t hold space for them. I’m complicated but that does not decrease my value. Every person with depression wishes their friends, loved ones, and coworkers understood that. Even lost in space I am grounded in good things.

I started saying no. I’ve told people I love “that won’t work for me.” I spent a lot of magical time with my son before the baby came. I discussed my trauma openly with a few family members.

I’ve made apologies I owed and lived out my sincere regret. I’ve kept healthy, stable people in my circle. I started going for walks again. I offered appreciation to others. I’ve recognized people may not embrace me because I don’t meet societal standards and that is their problem not mine. I‘ve kept saying no. I’ve stated my specific emotional needs out loud to the people that can contribute to them.

I figured out I have a rejection complex because I felt all relationships, especially those rooted in love and friendship, are all conditional. The right people will grant you unconditional love if you earn it. How to earn it is what I’m working on. As well as accepting some people will never say you earned it. Those aren't your people. Some people will say they care but they don’t really. Also... not your people. And sometimes someone will actually care and you’ll freak out because you don’t know how to accept that kindness. So you freeze. Get unfrozen and thank those people— they understand you need a minute.

I know I don’t want to be thrown in metaphorical boxes and I never want to place someone else there either. These realizations are the good things. They help me cultivate a peaceful experience. They help me set healthy expectations. They dot the dark sky with brightness.

So Ground Control this is Jessica. I found a line tethered out here in this peculiar space. I’m reeling in. Can you hear me? Ground Control? Do you read me? I got your message. I’m coming back. Check the ignition. God be with you.

(1,2,3 lift off)


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