selfies at The Statue of Responsibility
My brain-injury had a way of making me pretty self-obsessed.
Constantly having to monitor my environment and my energy had become a survival technique, without which I would risk a state that resembled either being sloppy drunk or in a comatose pill stupor. And things could turn dangerous quick, especially if I was out on my own.
Beyond that, the jumpy paranoia of PTSD locked me in to that developmental stage where everything occurred because of me - everything was personal.
All of this self-preoccupation took up a lot of real estate in my life, not really leaving much room for anyone else.
My good pal, Kelly, who took years to recover from a spinal-cord injury after falling out of a third-floor window, summed it up simply, “I didn’t have the capacity to relate to others. There was just nowhere to fit them.”
If you’re lucky enough to live through them, these kinds of catastrophes plunge you directly into a Dark Night of the Soul, that inhospitable place where your previously held meaning in life has collapsed, and you become fully engrossed in your own dissolution of self.
Not the best at parties.
I knew that if I ever wanted to emerge from my dark cocoon and rejoin the world, I would need to open myself up to other people, including their hang-ups, their projections, their opinions, their schedules, and their physical locations.
I would need to release the white-knuckle grip on my own reality and plunge into the uncertainty of communing with others.
This confrontation with my limits would go on to reveal a deeper truth: that freedom, sometimes, isn’t found in gaining greater control over our own schedule, preferences, and sovereignty, but in allowing ourselves to roll with the rhythms of community.