Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Letter to the Past

Dear Pre-Bloody Brain Me,
You know how your lifeline has a break in it and then starts up again? You always wondered about it. (Even though you see yourself as someone who has no use for mumbo-jumbo, at least for the most part.) You thought there was something big coming, a death, or a career change.
Well, there will be a big change, and you will almost die. And it’ll be a huge shock to your system, you’ll have no warning when all hell breaks loose.
You have a rare disease—cavernous angioma. It means that you have clusters of malformed blood vessels scattered throughout your brain, and two will bleed acutely. And you’ll end up with a whole bunch of problems, seizures, headaches like you wouldn’t believe, balance problems, and various other deficits. And fatigue, major fatigue.
You end up undergoing brain surgeries, three of them. And yes, it’s scary and the first two years of recovery are horrific, and all that. But right now, I want to tell you about the changes you undergo, or at least some of them. I want to speak of where I am now, as I write this, about nine years since the surgeries.
In many ways, though our foundation is the same, you and I are very different people. I don’t dislike you, but I like myself as I am now much more.
I’m much more compassionate than you, a better listener, which are partly responsible for my being a better teacher. I know you believe that you are all those things already, but you have no idea. In fact, you lack the awareness and self-awareness it takes to enable, recognize, and appreciate the transformation you will undergo.
You have a lot of good stuff going for you, you’re good people, but I think you got lost somewhere along the road, and became numb through the years. I think some of the people in your life just got to you, some in small ways, others more significantly, partly because you placed your trust in some of the wrong people. Whatever the reason, you became so world weary and jaded.
I don’t regret my past life, including the mistakes. After all, it was all part of my journey to where I am now, and I really like who I am now. I wouldn’t undo anything that has happened, even the really bad stuff—because it brought me here.
Looking back, I believe that the bloody brain woke me up, gave me a fresh look on life, on myself. I became a more authentic person. I know that you believe that you are honest with yourself—perhaps that was true when you were younger, but at some point a fog surrounded you, and some hard truths hid from you.
It also helped me get unstuck. You are stagnating and you don’t even realize it. Yes, you weren’t afraid to try new things, like weaving and rollerblading, and you grew with the kids. But emotionally… other than the love you felt for the kids, emotionally, you weren’t going anywhere. Yes, you saw much of the world around you, but there’s so much you missed.
Remember how you used to write when you were a teenager? Well, now I write with a vengeance. I love it. It’s become a huge part of who I am. And through the writing I’ve learnt so much about myself, about you, about our journey. I feel like writing keeps me from becoming stuck again—writing heightens my awareness of the world around me, and the world is ever changing. There’s always something new around the corner—the world. Life.
Despite all the bad stuff, and there’s plenty of that, overall I am in a good place, better than ever.
I suppose that at this point I should be giving you some advice. But really, I have none. You are a part of me, including the mishaps along the way. Just be you, or as you as possible. Just keep going. Sometimes it’ll be hard, but keep at it, one foot in front of the other.
You’ll get here. It’s worth it. You’ll see.
Deb, in the aftermath of the bloody brain.