Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Reveal

Protecting the integrity of your character from social assassination will require you to challenge attitudes that blame and punish you for your illness.
"Challenging Blame", Axioms for Survivors by Lon G. Nungesser 

Central Expressway 8:30 this morning.  Cars going 60+ like they're entitled. Passing on the right. Must be years since a cop drove this stretch of road. They all know it, too. Heading to SBI. Time to tell a version of Elaine's TBI Story.

The stoplights enable practicing the speech. Safely, that is. All the 60+ cars are now going 0. Cue cards help a lot. They help me focus on things other than words.

Like the audience, ~15 members of a foundation. Some new, some on the board, professional women. Probably sympathetic. Still something is lurking, an uneasy feeling. It doesn't come naturally, standing up and revealing personal details. By implication, asking for something. It's not what private, self-reliant people do.

Even if it were, in this case the Reveal seems like the wrong brand strategy. Yes, people are impressed when they're handed a business card that says "How my traumatic brain injury became a gift". Just not in a good way!

The story itself could be going better at the moment. My part is going fine. Exercise, diet, no wine. The part where everyone else steps up, not so much! Insurance companies and doctors and employers seem desperate to drive me away. So why share bad news? What's the benefit? Pity only makes things worse. Nothing like feeling helpless, pinned, paralyzed with so much fighting left to do.

I imagine the Community Room, the chairs and podium, its white walls and sliding glass door. At Oakmead Parkway the light turns green.

Lawbreakers and abiders proceed together, side by side. It comes to me suddenly, the reaction of that woman from Toronto at Blog World, the one who was so into LinkedIn. She looked at the business card, read the tagline and said "oh my god, you actually have a story!"

Christine from SBI says our culture is at the point with brain injury where we were 50 years ago with heart disease. People are afraid, there is no treatment, no ongoing support or rehab. With heart disease at least you weren't accused of making it up...

TBI seems to polarize us. In today's world you're either like the woman from Toronto or like the friends, coworkers, family members who hide behind blame. Who figure you're weak, moving slower, now is the time to leave you behind. There's no in-between. This morning could go either way.

At Bowers I think you're not asking for pity. Or money. Just a mile in your shoes. A human connection, that's all. 

 It goes fine.

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