Louise Mathewson - Author & Poet
|Posted on October 15, 2012 at 5:45 PM|
Unable to get myself to write two years after the accident, even after some healing had happened, really scared me. I knew writing would help in healing and I had been published several times before the accident. I began to wonder if terror was locked in the vault of my being.
As I thought it over, I realized I had no key to unlock the door to whatever feelings lurked inside me. I also knew there was no way to learn what messages they might hold for me, unless I found a way to get behind that door. One day I saw an ad in a writing newsletter for a writing mentor and I began to have hope. Having someone by my side as I opened the door to grief over what I had lost and how my life had been changed might be my way back to the light.
Once I opened the door, with her help, I saw a monster that, if let out of the cage, would swallow me up whole and I would die. The loss of the self that I had grown to know over 55 years was huge. What I thought I could do, my dreams, energy, memories, were gone or filled with holes. I was no longer able to depend on myself the way I had. I had to depend on others to get me through sometimes simple daily things, like how to get to the grocery store, where things were in the kitchen, how to write a check, how to make change, and talk to servicemen on the phone.
The list of things I couldn’t do by myself any more was endless. Grief about the losses of cognition from my brain injury felt very deep, almost like an ocean. I couldn't think on my feet because my processor was so freakin' slow, I could hardly process information as people spoke, especially abstract concepts. I was lost in a big, wide, scary world, where people thought I looked and sounded just fine.
I was so humiliated and embarrassed. I didn’t understand that relearning things would be so difficult, take so long, and then could be forgotten in an instant. It made me so angry. I got so frustrated that I couldn’t remember how to change the vacuum bag. My solution was to not vacuum. Then I didn't have to face how it felt to not remember how to do something I had done for years and taught my kids how to do. I lived in such deep shame, that no one even knew about - shame because I couldn’t function the way I had, the way everyone else did.
I couldn't find words to tell about the monster of grief that now lived in my life. Often, I would be feeling OK, until I would suddenly start to sob. I would wonder what triggered my tears, be so confused about who this person living inside me was, and wonder if I would ever get over it.
As I healed, I re-learned to use the computer, and was able to sit longer at the desk. I began to do some research. Gradually I found books, information online, all of which helped me begin to understand more about what I was feeling, the significance of the losses.
Chronic grief, grief that might not ever leave me, had become my constant companion. I felt like I lived in a dark cloud that I dare not tell people about. A psychiatrist, who had worked at the Centre for Neuroskills in CA, a highly regarded institute for brain injuries, explained to me that the injury would bring up and exaggerate old grief even though I had worked on it.
Ah, I was being given an opportunity to re-examine the past once again! I was so NOT excited about going over those old traumas I thought I had worked so hard to excise from my being. I just wanted to get on with life and live my dreams. How to get back to life was a question that plagued me.
Writing became my lifeline! It helped me get the grief out of my head and onto paper, using metaphors and images that broke open the feelings so I could find the treasure that this trauma held for me. Transformation began for me, through the medicine of writng poetry!!