Am I paranoid?  Do I have friends anymore?  What is a friend?  Should I consider the people I work with a friend?  Should I take offense to people not asking me out to lunch, and just not saying anything, not even to tell me that they are leaving?  Why do I think that everyone talks about me?  No, not all the time, but I know I am the subject of a passing conversation here and there.  When I hear my name mentioned should I wonder?  They may be positive exchanges, but I can’t see the facial expressions being exchanged.  Why do I care? I should just go to work, pay attention to the residents, and be happy.  Happy and self-contented.  Self contented about what I do, how I provide joy to others, and not care about “friends” going out to lunch excluding me.  Do my job, connect with the residents and go home to my family- not to think of the work politics until the next time I have to work.  Seriously, I think that this reduction of work hours has something to do with God’s plan, and not just the budget.  Maybe I am supposed to take time to evaluate the important things in life, happiness and contentment vs. a sense of productiveness, contentment and stress.  Sure, the latter’s still happy, just happiness with strings attached.  Particularly the strings in my forehead.


But what is friendship? Is it neighbors congregating at a backyard cookout together, or a bunch of people who hung out in their 20s and went to the same college?  A bunch of people around a fire pit at a campsite?  Perhaps it is a block party with loud fireworks further traumatizing my dog?  The ‘old gang’ from high school?  What if its years after and families have grown in between people- is there still room for friends?  Is friendship questioning? misunderstanding? “breaking up” with a girlfriend via text message?  Which turns out to be a miscommunication because it is OVER A WRITTEN TEXT MESSAGE ON A PHONE.  A new phone that I’m not even confident in using yet- what are all these icons for? why did i end up calling someone totally unintentionally?  Well, whatever.

I think that the word ‘friends’ change throughout different stages of your life.  When you’re a baby, your friends are your mom’s friends babies- turning into toddlers.  The ones that your mom creates a ‘play date’ with as an excuse for your mom to get together with her friend.  Then  your friends become the other kids that you sit next to in preschool, and friendships bud from there.  Then they get to be people you meet through your elementary school, the pool, your “summer friends”, sports friends, into high school friends.  My high school life was interrupted.  Interrupted by the life-altering car accident that I was in, in high school.  I miss that chunk of my life; the chunk of my second half of high school, as a cheerleader, as a social being, I miss my friends.  That’s what I lost- I lost my friends.  Not immediately, lots of my friends came to visit me, at first.  Then as the school year wore on (my junior year, which I was out of school for all of it and in rehab), people may have not been thinking about me all of the time, or gotten used to life without hanging out with me on the weekends.  Before September 1997, on most weekends I was hanging out with my friends, jumping in and out of different places, being social.  After my car accident, I spent my free time with my parents.

When I returned to high school in the fall of ’98, I went back to hanging out along senior rail, and in senior hall, with my friends that I should have been graduating with, only I was staying an extra year.  I tried relating to my friends, getting caught up in the gossip, the new relationships, but it was still pretty hard for me to go out on the weekends.  I couldn’t do the things that everyone else was used to, jumping in and out of cars really quick, it was difficult for me to get up the stairs of other people’s houses, it took a long time and was just tiring.  So I stopped going out with my friends- too much effort, too tiring.  I only went to one or two football games then.  It was too hard for me to get around.  All the not hanging out made it hard for me to talk to all my senior friends during break between periods in school.  I did a lot of listening.  When I first came back to school and hung around during break, I got a lot of “Why aren’t you saying anything Danielle?”  I didn’t have anything to say.

I miss that connection; that high school camaraderie, and I think that I’ve been craving that closeness ever since then.  I still miss it- I tried to treat my work just the same as high school, even college.  The difference was that in school, we were all the same age, trying to get the same goal accomplished, to graduate.  It’s different at work, at the nursing home.  Everyone had their own lives, with their own issues, and their own baggage.  A divorce and a single parent here and there, a widow, guys that were late 40s early 50s and never grew up.  Nurses had families that they were sending money to in Africa, to try and provide for them.  What was I? Some girl craving the companionship that was lost and never found way back in high school.  A grown up graduate from college still feeling like a kid, still living with my parents until I got married.  Even when I got married, I was like, “Wow, this is so adult coming home from work each day and unlocking the door to my condo.”  Or complaining about cleaning out our one bedroom place with too much stuff in it.  Going to sleep and waking up each morning with my husband.  Just making breakfast for us, or dinner.  (Or having him make food for me)

Of course, I’m cooking a lot more now.  Now that I have extra time to do domestic normal stuff like that, that I never had the time or energy to do.  I do more age appropriate things now- (I’m 33, but have felt 10 years older than I actually am for a VERY long time) like I’m taking 2 classes of yoga now, I’m super cleaning the house (trying to) gardening and planning out our meals-making grocery lists…watching Days of Our Lives

Even though I am ‘grown up’ and married, living a ‘domesticated life’, I still miss the good, girl, close friendships.  I may have a few, but its not like school, and not like you see that person every day.  Maybe that’s kind of what neighbors are now and friends through church.  But that’s another thing besides work that I’m feeling pretty distant to.  The church that I go to, is not filled with people our age, pretty much all people 20 years or more older than Matt and I.  And when you’re that much older, its like your ideals and what’s important to you are different.

But I guess everything’s different than it once was.  And the thing about getting older is going along with the things that are important in our lives right now.  I am older than high school, I’m half a lifetime older than I was pre-accident, I shouldn’t keep wanting the same type of relationships that I had back then.  I think maybe I could live with these older, more mature relationships.  BUT I HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT I AM STILL YOUNG! I’M STILL IN MY 30S FOR GOODNESS SAKES!



About Danielle!

A young professional Longwood University alum, with a traumatic brain injury having previously worked in the Therapeutic Recreation field with the elderly at nursing homes in Fairfax, VA. Now as a TBI advocate, trying to help others learn more about TBIs is involved in support groups, as well as very involved in my church, child care, and working part-time at a library
This entry was posted in inner reflection, Traumatic Brain Injury, work and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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