It’s now been two months since I felt like me regularly. While I feel like I’m living in reality more often now, I’m still often floating off somewhere, barely holding onto the real world. Some of the thoughts I’ve had and the things I’ve said have been so outrageous, I scare myself a little. My memory is shot and I frequently forget things I’ve done, arguing with my mom that she threw out my bowl of donuts when actually I put it away in the most ridiculous cupboard.
But, in some ways, my broken brain is benefiting me. Breaking some of my old bad habits is easier than it was before. I know that when my brain heals and the fogginess lifts, something about who I was has changed. The biggest difference is that I’m becoming a selfish bitch, and I’m totally okay with it.
They say being lonely when you’re in a romantic relationship is worse than being lonely when you’re single. I’ve been there and it does suck. But what’s far worse is being lonely when you know you have plenty of friends.
Before the accident, I complained to my therapist that I was so busy because so many people wanted to see me all the time. I was stressed from juggling all my friendships. With this concussion, I’ve barely heard from many of the people who used to fill my time.
I realized a lot of this time I was sharing with friends was actually me helping them. I spent hours driving people around, listening to their problems and organizing to get them the help they needed. All the while, I was leaving so little time to take care of myself, I probably needed help as much as they did. But I knew they’d do the same for me if ever I asked. At least, that’s what I allowed myself to believe.
The truth hurts. In this case, it’s made for one of the most painful times in my life. I asked my friends for visits or friendly mail to cheer me up through the monotonous days of lying on a heating pad on the floor, listening to podcasts when I could and sitting in silence when the headache, lightheadedness and dizziness settled in. Based on the minuscule response I receive, I realized that what I thought were friendships were too one-sided to be called such.
I’m fully aware that some friends, true friends, haven’t been around because their lives are so busy, they can’t give more of themselves up to someone else. “Have at least a couple of people been here for you?” one friend asked, unapologetic that this was only her second visit despite my public admissions of depression and loneliness.
I know pre-accident Meg would have resented her lack of guilt. In fact, even a few weeks after the accident I was outraged that some of my closest friends hadn’t even really tried to get in touch. But, now, I just feel admiration. And jealousy.
Amidst my embarrassing monologues explaining how doing anything—looking at my phone, listening to music, cooking—makes me feel faint and nauseous, I’ve been asked for favours. And I’ve unapologetically said “No,” despite wanting to say “Yes” and then “Are you fucking kidding me?”. After the inner outburst of rage that someone would dare ask me to physically or mentally exert myself for them right now, I came to understand that it’s solely my responsibility to know when I’m available to help, just as it’s my responsibility to know when I need to ask for help.
Saying “Yes” isn’t automatic anymore and it’s easier for me to say “No” to going out of my way to help someone who hasn’t earned a place in my heart. As my brain heals, I’m hoping this becomes it’s new way of functioning and one day I can ditch all the guilt I feel about putting me and the people dearest to me first, and everyone else dead last.