Brain Injury

When Half Equals a Whole

Many times in the past month I’ve started to craft a post to share, but I stop because it felt too honest, and that to say what was really on my heart would be an act of disloyalty to my husband, as if I were parading his limitations for the world to see. But the cause of his actions that give me such disappointment does not make the deep sadness any less. It does not soften the blow at all. In fact, sometimes it makes it harder because I also know it’s less likely to be able to change it. And so we must live with it, and have it be a part of us, a part of our story. It’s not something we can just “get over”.

The hurt and disappointment live with me. It is a neighbour to the joy of the necklace he once surprised me with. It’s a soon to be friend of the gentle good night kisses. It’s a companion to our lounging couch conversations.

Most men have a harder time expressing their emotions, but throw in a brain injury that acts like a short circuit when it comes to being able to translate thought into action, and the level of difficulty increases exponentially. I know this. Our road of celebratory events that present opportunities to honour and show his love for me in a way that is meaningful to me are full of not just potholes, but gaping sinkholes that swallow me up in sadness. Each time. And for him there are yellow caution signs all along the route, telling him of the event to come, but the bright headlights of the upcoming event blind him into overwhelmed inaction.

I always hope that maybe this time he will have understood what I need from him. It’s not like I haven’t told him or haven’t explained why it matters to me. In the moment, he understands. I truly believe he does. I also know that he so desires to care for me. His heart is golden. It’s rare to find a man like him who will honestly look at himself.

But knowing this and balancing my longings to be honoured for all I am and do is a precarious position. I know why he became who he is today, but I also know what I desire in our relationship. And the two seem unmovable at times. I’m not able to let go of my longings for acknowledgement and honour from my life partner. And the physiology of his brain makes the translation of thoughts of pride and appreciation for me stuck in his processor. I just see the spinning processing icon…and I wait. And I wait. The waiting is miserable torment. Just let go, I think. That would be the sensible thing. But I can’t. I’m not sensible at all.

I come back and check every once in a while, and sometimes the progress bar has budged. He remembered to send me a text while I’m at work. I’ll take that as a win. He made me a card. Another small nudge in the right direction. But sometimes the icon just spins . No change. At least not that is visible to the human eye. One day, I hope, and yes I’m holding onto that hope, that all this processing behind the scenes all of a sudden clicks, like when you see the progress bar on the update on your computer go from being stuck at 10% and suddenly jump to 50%. I’ll take the 50%. Yes I will. Right alongside all the hurt and disappointment that never really leaves, I’ll take the treasure of his 100%.

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