How a Brain Injury Changed My Personality

I had a personality change, not something I chose, but rather something that chose me. It began on a hot July day in 2010.

As I sat in my car waiting to turn into a tiny fruit stand, I heard a screech, a long incessant squeal that still rings through the air today. I gripped the dashboard, and then it was over.

I don’t remember metal crushing metal, or the impact of one car hitting another, and I have no idea what happened to my head that day. All I know is what I’ve been told: “Your brain flew from one side of your skull to the other.” The doctors told me I had a brain injury. What they didn’t tell me is how severe it would be.

They didn’t tell me it would take three years to get beyond the pain, to be able to exercise normally, and not have headaches every day. They didn’t tell me it would take nearly that long to be able to read like I once had, to write, speak, and comprehend. And they didn’t tell me it would change my personality, most likely forever.

I am constantly reminded of how much I have changed. I was reminded today when my son called and updated me on his job situation. I found myself interrupting, blurting out words I didn’t mean. I wish I hadn’t done that.

I used to think before speaking, and tried to always use kind, affirming words. I used to be a nicer person. But I have changed.

Words tumble from my lips, unfiltered. I have no idea what I will say, or when. Hours later, or perhaps days, I know what I have done, and I am so ashamed. I want to wipe away those words, one swift strike of a key, just like on my computer. But I can’t.

I guess we all do that, don’t we? Try to erase hateful words, wash away thoughtless deeds. Always searching for forgiveness.

Once again, I will call my son and apologize. He will speak the words he always says, the same words my family uses every time, “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean anything. I’m not that sensitive anyway.”

My family is kind, thoughtful, forgiving, so unlike me, maybe more how I used to be. I cling to their words, hanging in the air like the incessant screech, reminding me of who I was, and who I am today, wondering if this is who I will forever be.

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