Stories of Impaired Relationships after Brain Injury
The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury. Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
If Angela can’t work, can she at least be a wife, a domestic partner? Sadly, this is another role that despite her best efforts has proven to be too cognitively and emotionally challenging for her. I was 100 percent committed to this relationship and whatever was needed in that relationship so if I’m supposed to go to a party or an event, I can’t for whatever reason plan to do something else before that because I’m so concerned about making sure that I’m available when this other thing happens, and so a relationship for me eventually, if that ever becomes something that’s realistic, a partner’s going to have to be able to help me, almost as if kind of like a kid.
But to go from college girl to rehab to the dating scene is a difficult transition, one fraught with peril. Alcohol, not knowing who to trust and impulsivity made dating unproductive. Most of it is too personal to post publicly, even in a forum with some confidentiality. Her mother and father helped her through it and then almost 20 years after her accident, she met her husband. The relationship started well but when Betty started having some difficulty, she decided that he wouldn’t be interested in someone with her problems, so she stopped calling him. Fortunately, her brothers convinced her to give the relationship one more try. When asked if he had been surprised about some of her challenges after they got married, she explained: “I never realized this until a few years ago. My mom actually took him aside and gave him an opportunity to say he didn’t, like maybe he did not want to participate, or did not want to go through with the wedding because she told me deficits and problems that I would have and he listened to her, and he told me later he said your mom told me this would be a problem. And I said, and “You still accepted” He said: “I love you for who you are, so.”
Often people will refer to brain injured people as brain damaged. Gina takes great offense to this and states; “If somebody tells me I’m damaged, it ruins the relationship because I will cut them right off. I will not tell them things. I won’t, I don’t cut them out of my life but I don’t use them for support anymore. If you it’s just a word that I don’t know. Injuries you can get over. Damage you can’t. That’s the way I look at it. That’s the way I feel or yeah, I guess interpret it.”
Thus, on the day of Lethan’s injury, the program of â€œcoolnessâ€ crashed. As his friend Ryan says in “Who Am I, Again?”: “It was just hard, you know? We’re always being told “˜if he does this, do that; if he does that, do this.’ And it felt like babysitting, kind of. And you never knew how you were going to act. You would go from laughing to yelling, to laughing again real quick. And the laugh it was this raspy, breathy, throaty sort of thing. It was kind of scary. It sounded almost like a donkey bray. I mean, dude, we just wanted to hang out, you know?”
How did you, or how did he manage the change in you emotionally, cognitively, in your appearance and rebuild that romance that you had before you got hurt? : “I can’t speak for him, but I can tell you what I saw. And then I can tell you what he’s told me since. Early on I didnt really recognize him as a boyfriend. I don’t know, maybe like my roommate, who was with me the whole time in all – And it’s kind of where he was. So I didn’t see him as a boyfriend for a long time, and then I don’t know when I started seeing him as a boyfriend again. Maybe when I was in the crib at my parents’ house is when I recognized him as my boyfriend, and he just always treated me good.”
Do you think that you felt some resentment towards him in that period because you weren’t having the kind of relationship you remembered? Do you think that contributed to your affair? : “Not in that way. When you first ask, again, I just keep thinking how supportive he was to me physically and mentally getting better.” Did he start to treat you less as an object of desire and more just as a friend, was there a disconnection in the sexual chemistry because of all this? ” Well there was, and then there came a time when, well there was no interaction, and then there came a time when I wanted to have an interaction. And when I had that affair, prior to that, I had met, I had ran into a nurse at the hospital that I was at who happened to be a friend of mine from high school. And I met up with her and I told her that I was in day rehab and I had a brain injury, and we became friends and we saw each other outside the hospital. And I told her that I wanted to start having sex again and could I, that I hadn’t even had my period yet, and so she kind of indirectly re-taught me about birth control. And so then I was able to partake, and then I had the affair. When I learned again about birth control I told my boyfriend and relationships developed. But I remember being bothered by them, by the relationships, thinking this is, I didn’t feel like it was real. I felt like it was pity kind of and that it, it just wasn’t right; there was, it just wasn’t; where the affair was voluntary and wanted.