Sketch by Jagged Smile.

A Sense of Direction:
Uneasy Acceptance Revisited

In Brain Injury, Recovery by Emerson Jane Browne1 Comment

Sketch by Jagged Smile.

Tonight, I told a friend about a post I had done called Uneasy Acceptance.  After sending him the link, I reread the post and was amazed at how much of it still rings true.  I am, however, a little bit further along on my journey than I was back in April of 2009.

The term Uneasy Acceptance comes from the following quote from the Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide written by Glen Johnson, PhD.

The next phase is what I call uneasy acceptance.  This is when head-injured people learn where they stand and what their limits are.  They’ve learned after many failings and many times of paying for it, that they can only handle a limited number of hours of work or play.  They’ve learned to keep a consistent schedule and will stick to that schedule.  For example, they can work six hours a day, but realize that 8 hours is too much.  They’ve learned to say, “I have to deal with this head injury.”  Does this mean they like it?  NO.  They’re not happy about it, but they’ve learned to accept it.  Often individuals in this phase begin to use words like the “old” me and the “new” me.  Many of their old friends are no longer with them, but they’ve found new friends.  They’ve moved on to new relationships, maybe even new work, and they’ve basically said, “People have to like me for what I am.”  That’s “uneasy acceptance”.2

What startled me about that quote is that it actually vividly describes right where I am now; not where I was last year.

When I wrote the first post in April of 2009 I was just beginning to get out of denial.  I was just beginning to realize that this brain injury was for real and that I may be forever changed.  I was starting to mourn and fear the loss, not starting to accept the new me.

Of course my response to doctors back then was still sort of a quiet rebellion and determination.  I was  still working doggedly to get the help I needed.  I had not yet started at CORP TBI group at Harborview Medical Center.  As I have said before, the help I got there was transformative!

Transformative. That is an interesting word to use.  CORP did not transform my brain injury.  They did not give me my old me back.  But they gave me the tools to develop a new life with this new me.

Back at the time of the first post I said:

Hope and “Uneasy Acceptance are sort of coexisting in me; not at war with each other or vying for attention.  If anything the “Uneasy Acceptance” is jumping around in the stands rooting Hope and Hard Work on to greater and greater improvements and achievements.  It is like Hope and “Uneasy Acceptance” have become allies.

I am in a different place now.  I would not say I am at a homeostasis with my healing, but I am at a place of, well, “Uneasy Acceptance”  I am ready to move on into a new life.

Interestingly, I plopped the sketch by Jeff Gregory of Jagged Smile into the beginning of this blog post because it just “felt right”.  When I went to link to it to give him credit, I found that the sketch is entitled:

“A Sense of Direction … A Direction of Sense”

How very fitting!  That sums up where I feel I am at.

I am beginning to get “A Sense of Direction” of where my new life is headed and “A Direction of Sense” is the acceptance part of that.  It is accepting the limitations I still have and learning to work with them.  For instance like accepting that I need to do a full stop rest a couple of times during each day in order to function, or having some compassion with myself when I miss a step in my planning no matter how hard I tried to cover all the bases.

I am still exploring what that new life looks like, but in many ways, I am happier than I have ever been before.  Along with the brain cells, I shed a lot of other useless garbage that was holding me back.

Maybe I am actually attaining some Serenity in the matter.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

 

Footnotes:

  1. The wonderful cartoon “A Sense of Direction…A Direction of Sense” at the start of this entry is by Jeff Gregory of Jagged Smile and is used with permission.  I love his blog and his cartoons!
  2. Glen Johnson PhD, Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide, p. 67 (approximately)
  3. The Serenity Prayer is most often attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr.
Emerson Jane Browne

I am Emerson Jane Browne. I write about Brains, Apps, & Productivity, and many other aspects of Life. I speak to TBI support groups, speak and teach workshops at tech, music, and writer conferences. I consult with organizations on strategic planning and building a strong community.


  • Tom

    I really enjoyed this. I think My Sense of Direction is still screwy right now & I still have a long way to go as far as acceptance goes.
    It was nice reading aout your Journey and realizing that is has taken you some time to get where you are. I am still more of an instant gratification type. I need to slow down and take the time to heal.
    Take Care!!