Part Eighteen – Walking Down the Aisle Like a Lady Despite TBI
In our previous blog, Lori’s discussed the difficult task of navigating sexuality after frontal lobe injury.
Thank you for your honesty about what is one of the most complicated parts of recovering from a brain injury, and it’s especially complicated because sex and romance are the most complicated things we do as growing up to be adults.
When you manage to reestablish a meaningful relationship with your boyfriend, your fiancé, how did you regrow grow the intimacy and the sexual and the romantic feelings again?
It never seemed, after that affair, I don’t remember there being difficulty with my boyfriend, husband. I learned from the affair about my expression of love, my verbal expression of love, and I learned about the physical communication or body language. And I learned, I learned about the difference between a non-loving physical relationship and a loving physical relationship. I learned that, and so I knew that that affair was not a loving physical relationship.
So then when I was with my boyfriend, my husband, I knew that that was a loving physical relationship. I don’t know why, but it became easy for me to say, “Will you hold my hand?” He’s not a PDA person, public display of affection, and so I learned that I have to ask for that, and I think maybe it became easier for me to ask for that after I’d been injured than maybe it would have been prior.
Can you ask me differently anything else?
That’s all very good. Do you feel like your sexuality today is changed because of your brain injury, or have you, although at a slower process, ultimately got to the same place?
Because I wasn’t married, and I was younger, a lot younger then, it’s like two different, it’s like an apple and an orange. I can’t even – I’m happy with everything.
What was the process of getting married like for you?
It was the coolest thing. My roommate, Robin, was in my wedding. I had a girlfriend that was in my wedding that was my friend from the time I was 6 years old. My maid of honor was the best friend that I made at the board of realtors. My husband’s best man was a friend of his for probably close to ten years prior to him meeting me. There was a lot of important people around.
My wedding was not real extravagant. I think I had 120 people. That’s not right. It wasn’t huge. It wasn’t huge. And my wedding dress was given to me by one of maid of honors, one of my, one of the maids. I was in her wedding the year before.
I told her I loved her dress and she gave it me to wear for my wedding. My boyfriend and I, because we had lived together, we agreed that we didn’t want our parents to pay for everything, that we wanted to pay for what we could because we were adults. So we paid for as much as we could.
We were married in the church that I had my first communion. The pastor that married us… I’m a, I’m a Lutheran. We got married Lutheran. My husband is a Catholic, and we got married by the pastor that taught me religion since I was 7 years old. He was retired, but he came out of retirement for our wedding.
My parents were, I think, they were very proud. It was wonderful and incredible, because I had been through so much, and, and I hadn’t been able to walk so well, yet I was able to walk down the aisle for my wedding in a wedding gown with, with a trail behind it. And I could walk and not trip, and I could walk, and I could – I felt just like the princess of, you know, just like any normal person would feel.
Did you walk like a girl?
Yes I did. And if I didn’t, you wouldn’t have been able to tell, because my, my skirt was long. The wedding, the actual, saying I do and all that, everything just went fine, and it was videotaped and everything was good then. My brother, three brothers-in-law were all in the wedding. My little brother was in the wedding. It, it, it was just good. Everything was good.
What was the planning process like? Decision making can be very difficult after a brain injury. Did you make those decisions, or did someone do most of that for you?
Yeah. My husband and I did a lot of it. When he asked me to marry him – we dated for like four years prior to the injury, and then we got married three years post injury, so that’s seven years. So I planned to marry this man for a long time. And so when he asked me to marry him – when we decided to move in together, I said, “I can only live with you if we are engaged, if we are going to get married.”
And so we got engaged and we lived together. And as soon as he asked me to marry him, I said, knowing that I know him, I said, “All right, we got to set a date.” So we set a date right away. I just knew I had to do that, and planning, he and I did it together.
And maybe because it was so informal and so little, and family and friends all helped. I remember I asked the ladies that were in my wedding to help me all the time, and to help me in knowing what to do. So no, that wasn’t a planning problem that I know of.
Next in Part Nineteen – Learning to Put Things on Hold at Work After a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury