Re-Defining and Re-Claiming "Feeling Like A Jerk"

© 2000 Michele Toomey, PhD


November 14, 2000

Sharp intellect, acute hearing, excellent memory, quick thinking, powerful speaking, these are the descriptions of what brings status and admiration. Brain damage with its fragmented capacity, diminished memory, and disjointed energy is the formula for "Feeling like a jerk." Add to that, your loss of hearing that you have handled quietly for years, and "jerkdom" can easily become your reference point for self-evaluation and self-image.

Luckily, there is no integrity in that conclusion or in that orientation. We are not less for being brain damaged, rather, we have less capacity. There is a HUGE difference. There is integrity in acknowledging the truth of less capacity. There is no integrity in labelling ourselves less because we claim the truth. Rather, we are more. More than the disability, more than a denier or pretender. We are a courageous person confronting the reality of diminished capacity with the intention of dealing with it and maximizing everything we have. Initially, we may well feel like a jerk when we reveal our inability to remember, to figure out, to be able to pull off without help. Understandable but should not be allowed to become a way of interpreting the reality. The embarrassment of having to expose our damaged brain capacity is real, but it is diminishing only if we believe that we are inferior for having less memory, or less connectedness to what we know or knew. Everything seems less, less, less, and so do we.

If we really believe that, however, we would be fools! "Feeling like a jerk" must be transformed to feeling sorry, disappointed, regretful, angry, tired that we have a diminshed capacity. Then, with warmth, courage, care and respect, we must rise up to the demand of the moment and reveal ourselves. We need some help and we will ask for it, not as a jerk, but as a woman of integrity who refuses to fake it, hide from it, manipulate around it or run away from it. You are more for having the courage to reveal your lessened capacity and need for help. Those who help are not smarter than you or better than you, just luckier than you.

Be a proud "I feel like a jerk" until you have successfully reclaimed, re-defined and transformed "jerkdom". Leave the put-downs, the pretense and the superficial judgments to the real jerks. They deserve that crap. You don't!

These musings will be added to on a regular basis. In addition, Marlene will be writing her own reflections on having been struck by herpes simplex encephalitis and how Liberation Psychology is allowing her to have a full life.

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