Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Riley "Difference"

Riley, Shannon, Sam, Ellie, Lindy, honestly, I don't care. Call me whatever you like. As long as you can tell the difference between the TBI and me. This is why I created the persona "Riley:" to make the distinction not matter. But truth of the matter is that I can't live with myself as Riley, as Shannon, as any other name when the TBI is in control. I wanted to change my 'identity' (if you will) so that I could say that all of the weird things I do because of the TBI are simply quirks. But, I can't do that. I am so frustrated with myself because of a few different things.
First thing I'm upset about is this. As I have described before, I felt like I was in a state of limbo for the last 5 years, not knowing who I really was. I am clearly no longer Shannon (from before my accident) and I really, really don't want to be the stupid TBI. But the TBI is in control so much of the time. So I decided to create a new identity - Riley - as a person who has a TBI. The problem however stems from my approach to the image of someone with a TBI. Each and every time that I feel confident in saying that my name is Riley, is when I am upbeat, positive, on top of life, similar to the way I was before the accident, or when I would love to be called Shannon.
When the TBI is in control, you might as well just call it what it is; TBI, traumatic brain injury, head injury, backhoe to the head, whatever. Just don't associate me with my TBI. The brain injury is one heck of a difficult battle that requires constant struggle to do the simplest of tasks. It takes so much effort, so much motivation, so much energy, so much thought to brush my teeth, wash my hands, say prayers, change clothes, etc. So yes, it is a tremendous battle that I have to fight every single second of every single day.
I think I've finally come to a point however that I've accepted that Shannon has a stinking awful TBI. But I created Riley with false pretenses; she doesn't really have a TBI, she owns the TBI. So yes, I would love for the people in my past to separate the Shannon before the accident with the Shannon now. But, I can't really control that.
It doesn't matter what you call me, it wouldn't even matter if I legally changed my name, went into witness protection and moved across the country. The person inside of me will never fade away; I'm always going to be an over-achiever; even with the biggest challenges of the TBI. I'm always going to have certain expectations that I feel I have to live up to regardless of what my name is. Yes, my brain injury changed a lot about me, but it didn't change the person inside; and trying to change my identity won't do that either.
So honestly, it doesn't matter what you call me. But I still feel like Shannon inside, except for the times when the TBI is in control. And in those times, I don't feel like anyone, I am just the TBI.