image of man's face with tough look on http://dancingupsidedown.com

Reality: Can you take it?

In Blogging, Recovery by Emerson Jane Browne1 Comment

image of man's face with tough look on http://dancingupsidedown.com There is a difficult delicate balance I try to maintain on this blog of speaking the truth of my experiences with having a TBI without ever wanting to sound like I am complaining or whining. 

I see people having the same difficulty on other TBI sites. 

Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of Complain on Dictionary.com

com·plain
–verb (used without object)

  1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault
  2. to tell of one's pains, ailments, etc.
  3. to make a formal accusation

Wow! "To express pain or grief"?  No wonder I feel there is such a delicate balance; but it is probably the second definition of complain which leads to any mention of the TBI effects being thought of as taboo.

Okay, so where does the word complain come from?  From Word-Origins.com:

com·plain
Date of Origin 14th c.
Complain goes back to the Latin in verb plangere, source also of English plangent. This was formed on a prehistoric base *plak- (from which we also get plankton), and it originally meant ‘hit’. Its meaning developed metaphorically through ‘beat one’s breast’ to ‘lament’, and in medieval Latin it was combined with the intensive prefix com- to produce complangere. When it entered English via Old French complaindre it still meant ‘lament’, and although this sense had died out by about 1700, traces of it remain in ‘complain of’ a particular illness. Complaint (14th c.) came from Old French complainte.

Okay, I can understand that, but the word has come to mean much more than to lament or beat one's breast. 

I think complain is a term used to guard against discomfort.  Why does hearing about reality, the real-life difficulties that someone may be dealing with, create such discomfort in people?  I don't really get it.  Is it that when someone hears about difficulties or troubles, a person wants to help, but if there is no help that can be given then there is a frustration that arises and as a result a push- away response?  I don't know.  I just know that it happens.

My biggest hope with this blog is to provide a place where people can reach in and touch a place in themselves by reading as I touch a place in myself.  I hope that it helps some others with TBIs feel less alone and less afraid.  I think one of my other hopes in writing here is to make a TBI more human and not as frightening.   

Thank you to whoever is reading.  I write for myself and I write for you. 

Now, to let you in on a little secret, I wrote this post as a preamble to writing a post (hopefully tomorrow) about some of the challenges and struggles I am currently facing in regards to the TBI.  The fear of sounding "complainy" was choking me so I had to write this post first.

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.


  • ScrambledSquid

    I think it is a case of a bunch of potential factors with why people do this, having had to deal with a chronic physical illness for 5 years before my mind went (which is by far the most crippling.)

    1. There really are selfish, fair-weather people out there.

    2. Any illness changes who we were to some degree– TBI moreso. It seems like a natural impulse in people even without injury as a factor to grow apart and change over time, thus certain friendships terminate. Physical illness/injury seems to only accelerate this process, except the tragedy is that it is an outside, unforeseen source that affects one part fairly quickly, and not the other. So while the healthy party has more flexibility to adapt and move on, the afflicted party cannot as quickly or readily.

    3. Everyone is dealing with their own issues in life and don’t want to, or can’t, take the time to be patient and help.

    4. People seem to like to see things resolve quickly, in a timely manner, with clear progressive steps. If it doesn’t happen fast enough, they lose interest, but simultaneously blame it on you, probably as an outlet to relieve guilt from “abandoning a sick person” is found socially reprehensible.

    5. The primal, insidious concept of “contagion fear,” regardless of the transmittable nature of the affliction. This is all survival mechanism/animals in the wild stuff. But I don’t think many people are even aware of it. It takes a lot of a person to overcome this impulse.