Posted on January 19, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 11 of 19 in the series Angela

TBI Survivor: Angela’s part Eleven

We talked to another half a dozen people about who Angela was before  she was a TBI survivor, going back to high school and throughout her professional career.   Each of these interviews gave us  a different perspective, but they all had a similar theme: Angela was  a truly remarkable woman, with extraordinary skills and drive.  She was highly productive, at the top of her profession.  Whatever normal emotional challenges she had faced in her life, she never brought them into the workplace, never allowed them to affect her productivity, to negatively impact her co-workers.

What we learned about Angela before she was a TBI survivor is that if she wanted to do something, she did it.  She would set a goal, find what it took to accomplish it and forge ahead.   By age 32, Angela had been a lifeguard, a firefighter for the forest service, a flight attendant, even a women’s pro football player. All of this before she was a TBI survivor.

Angela’s Essays Provide Insight to Who She was Before She was a TBI Survivor

From another of Angela’s essays pre-TBI Survivor:

The Journey from Caterpillar to Butterfly

“What the caterpillar sees as the end to the butterfly is just the beginning”

Every time I have read this quote I have become discouraged because I believed that my transformation from caterpillar to butterfly had already been complete and that in fact I had to have been one of the most beautiful butterflies in the world having experienced so many different challenges in order to get to the stage in life I was and to have been so happy there.

I felt as though the set back of my accident took me from the beautiful butterfly that I had become and put me back on the path starting again not as a caterpillar but as a horn worm that would never emerge a butterfly but could only become a moth.

I would think about my research in college and the countless hours I spent looking for the horn worms I used for my study and I realized that in life no one is ever really looking for the caterpillars, let alone the horn worm but most everyone wants to see the creature that it becomes, even I who was a quest to collect as many horn worms as possible did so only to observe their transformation I had no interest in the ones that lacked the drive to do the work to make the transformation.

These thoughts have often left me with an empty feeling inside and a curiosity to know if in fact my life was and continues to be a universal research project and that if in my second journey through transformation I was going to be one of the horn worms who just dried up because I no longer have all the skills or the motivation that I need in order to cocoon myself and complete the life cycle.

In all of the times I have read this it never crossed my mind that it might be possible that it is not that I went from butterfly to horn worm but that maybe what is true is that I have always been and continue to be a caterpillar and that my accident is only another challenge in my journey, providing me with additional tools that I will need in or to create my chrysalis so that I can emerge as the beautiful butterfly I am truly meant to be.

For Part Twelve of Angela’s story, click here.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447