Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Clean Break

I’m still haunted by Danny’s words: “You’re obsessing. It’s time to move on.”
I told myself that when I finished the first complete draft of the book, I’d move on. When the draft was finished, I thought that when I’d done all my edits, I’d be able to focus on other topics. But I continued to write about the bloody brain. Perhaps Danny was right. Perhaps I was obsessing. Why could I not seem to move on? Would the bloody brain always be at the epicenter of my thoughts?

I’ve been writing about the bloody brain for almost seven years now. Until a couple of years ago, all but a few pieces have been about the bloody brain and its effect on my life.
The memoir is finished. And still, I write about the bloody brain.
I wondered whether I needed to to make a clean break, but the stories kept pouring into my consciousness and out onto the paper. I thought that perhaps I needed to break myself of it gradually. Perhaps I needed to make a conscious effort to shift the focus over to other topics.
Baby Ella.JPG I look back at what I have written recently.
Just over the last two months, I’ve been writing about my grand-dog. I’m also working on an essay about a textile-related meeting I attended recently, and all those pieces about textiles that I am reworking…
My blog pieces have been all over the place, family related, memories from before the bloody brain, activism, poetry. Though in some of those posts the brain injury did play a role, and several were completely focused on the injury and its aftermath. I’ve been working on an essay about being at high risk for early onset dementia, and another about recovering from sensory overload, both directly associated with the bloody brain.
What about this morning? I wrote about a block printing fabric, about some ruins I visited in Guatemala six years ago, and this piece. This morning, I was just writing, about whatever came to mind, whether it involved the bloody brain or not.
I go wherever my brain needs me to go. I just write, whatever I need to explore, and for the longest time, I needed to explore the bloody brain. Now, that need is evolving. Now, I need to write about life. I write about my escapades with Gus, my grand-dog, about my interaction with indigenous textile artisans, and my reactions to current events.
Is it an obsession, or a way of running it through my systems, a way of making sense of my world, of what has happened, of who I am?
I can’t really divorce myself myself from the bloody brain. When I write about life, about my life, I am writing about myself. I am a brain injury survivor. The bloody brain is a part of who I am. The bloody brain has affected me on many levels. When I write about life, I am writing through the eyes of a brain injury survivor.

Prior to the brain bleeds, would I have reveled in the warmth of the water in the puddle I shared with Gus? When I referred to Arab Israeli conflict in the past, though I felt deeply about it, my emotions didn’t used to run as highly as they do now. I doubt if I would have have given those artisans more than a passing smile before the injury. Now, I connect with people as I didn’t before.

The bloody brain has changed my life. It has changed me. And it permeates my writing. Whether I write about the bloody brain directly or not, it is always present, always a part of me. The bloody brain is here to stay. There are no breaks from it. There are no breaks from writing about it.

So no, my obsession is not with the bloody brain. My obsession is with life. I am obsessed with writing about life, my life.