By Lori Purdy Faitel
What do you consider a friend? I guess I consider someone a friend if they are someone who I enjoy being with and talking to, who contacts me without request, and who is nice to me. Ever since I suffered a traumatic brain injury, I thought I only had one friend, my boyfriend turned husband.
Yes, many people who I was close to drifted out of sight and out of mind after the TBI. For some reason I ruminate on those losses for many years.
A Traumatic Brain Injury is not the only reason people may glide into and out of our lives. For some reason I was fixated on the fact that as I lost the personality I had prior, I also lost friends of that era of my life. Well of course, I am not the same person so it only makes sense that I would not appreciate or enjoy the same people. But as all humans evolve and develop we change. Some of us become parents and that changes our social status. Some of us take on and change varying jobs; with different jobs our leisure time changes as does our spare time.
I find it pretty funny that some 26 years after the TBI I am finally understanding this. For a very short time during my recuperation/re-creation I mourned the loss of who I was, but thanks to my neuro-psychologist that mourning time was limited. Maybe if I spoke to my neuro-psychologist at the time as I did regarding my loss of personality I would have gotten over the change I recognized in friendships.
A traumatic brain injury does not remove friends and significant others the change within ourselves does. It seems so basic to me now. Of course the friends I spent my time with prior to the TBI are not the people I spend my time with now. At the time of the TBI I was in transition in life as it was. I am sure with or without the injury friendships would have changed.
26 years ago I was beginning a career as an executive secretary, developing new hobbies and interests and learning about the world. At that time in my life it was about 5 years post high school and I continued some of those friendships. Come to think of it my new friendships were from my job and my boyfriend. My boyfriend at the time stayed with me during the recuperation and redevelopment. The friendships that were born from him have stayed.
Two very important girlfriends from high school are still friends of mine today. They both dealt with my traumatic brain injury, changes in mental status, intelligence and physical ability in their own ways. Today I have what I see as a regular friendship with both of them. The three of us are married, with children even grandchildren. We have developed into ladies we never would have foreseen. I guess these friends are the friends I treasure most.
My husband has a large family and the friendships that developed within the family have gotten stronger. I guess all people I consider friends would have become friends or stayed friends regardless of the changes that occurred in my life.