Sustaining a Strong Self-Image in the Face of Memory Loss

© 2001 Michele Toomey, PhD


April 24, 2001

Intellect and intelligence are so associated with knowledge and facts that memory loss can easily lead to a feeling of loss of intelligence. As someone who is highly educated and who relied on her intelligence and her ability to remember facts and creatively use them to solve problems and envision solutions, an inability to remember is a devastating blow. No place is it more devastating than to your image of yourself. Where is your legitimacy? Where is your worth? Where is your purpose?

Again the paradox of the gift and curse of post-encephalitis. The curse of memory loss is offset by the gift of being forced to go to essence. Your self-worth, your legitimacy, your self-image emanate from integrity, your integrity, the essence quality of our being. You are a woman of integrity who grapples with the truth, even and especially the devastating truth of memory loss, of uncertainty about seizures, of inability to easily sequence and focus, of a body wired with damaged receptors and transmitters, of a healing body and mind that lose ground as they heal.

To talk of stature is to talk of the woman who is emerging from this devastation. She is a "woman tall and true" in the best sense of the word. Efficiency, quickness, agility, productivity are no longer the proof of worth. Proof is not the point and worth is not the goal. Stature is awarded to courage, to seeking, honoring and living with integrity in the midst of brain damage.

In this shift, your self-image shines forth in the sterling light of integrity, radiating the place "where truth and fairness meet" you, at essence, at core. Marlene, you have every right to walk with pride and we walk proudly beside you, hand in hand, heart to heart to heart, spirit to spirit to spirit.

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