(This is my expression of what it has been like to live among peope who do
not understand. The plexiglass wall is the effect of brain injury and the
resulting vestibular problems, seen from the inside, and as others see me
from the outside. "even not be real" refers to trying to be the person I was
before the brain damage. I hope you enjoy it. There is a happy ending.)
Sun, Aug 2, 1992 11:09 a.m.
c 1992, 1996 Stephanie St. Claire
There is a plexiglass wall around me. I see out and others
think that they
see in. They can't. No one sees me. I beat on the plexiglass enclosure with
bruised and bloody fists. My screams for help fall back on me, and echo
hauntingly. The world goes on around me. I see but cannot touch. Occasionally
someone looks my way, and smiles at the reflection. I look out. I am not
heard, I am not seen.
Sometimes I slip messages out to someone I hope will help. The crushing news
comes that I am "fine," "there is no wall," "you are fine, I know because I
can see you." What is seen is a reflection, sometimes of you, sometimes of
me, depending upon how close each of us stands to the plexiglass wall.
I am in here. I see you. I hear you. I tell you what you want to hear (that I
am like you) so that you won't go away and leave me alone. Dishonest? I never
thought that I would be able to bear being left alone. I would do anything so
that you would like me; even not be real. I didn't know that you couldn't see
I am dying in here. The is no medical aid for plexiglass. I suppose that it
shouldn't hurt, but it does. I can't reach out. I can't speak out. I am not
heard. I am "fine." I am in here and no one sees me, like the children with
autism in their plexiglass cages. The walls are unfeeling and unbending.
I am sitting in the center of the floor now. I rarely look up. I speak out
less often now. I have asked for help, but help is words . There are words
stuck to the outside of the clear, hard walls. Reminders of the many times I
thought that I was still a human being like other human beings. The words,
though some were attached long ago, still hurt. Lazy, malingering, retarded,
crazy, faking, stupid, weird, pathetic.
Was my face so frightening as I pressed it against my prison, trying to find
a way to be free? People ran. Some fast, some slowly, but they all ran. Some
people were hostile. They beat furiously on my walls in rage that I still
cannot understand. The concussion was a shock that vibrates my prison and
causes an ache that seems to never go away. Others taunted me. One, of all
people, knew that I was in here, my husband. He flaunted his freedom and my
entrapment and caused me to watch as he brought his girlfriends into my view.
He dared me to stop him, knowing that we both knew that I could not. As he
betrayed me the suffering became so immense that some very vital and caring
part of me died, taking my hope and sanity with it. Still I struggled on,
like a punch drunk fighter that knows only one way to victory.
I wish that I could sit here and tell you that it has all been worth it, that
victory is mine, that I am seen, and heard, and felt. Fine words. Wonderful
words. If only words could be reality I would fly, and run, and sing, and
dance! I could protect and defend myself. I could remove the labels from the
walls of a prison that would exist no more.
God is silent.
As someone approaches I get up, walking mechanically to the doorless wall. My
motions reflect a distorted image that each person interprets in his or her
own way. Each person walks away satisfied that we have had an
interaction...hopeless, onesided interaction. I return to my place. It has
become automatic now. One day I may find a window. A hope. A hand that will
reach in and help me tear the walls down. For now I sit. I wait. I think. I
talk and listen to the only person who does understand. Her compassion comes
back to me in my own voice. Before I die, I pray that it will not be alone.
(1996. Update. The husband mentioned above is now an EX-husband. My voice is
now not alone. I am married to a man who knows my difficulties, and loves,
accepts, supports, and understands me. I am treated as an adult and
respected, without having to be "cured" of brain damage and vestibular
problems and be who I am not. There ARE people who can love, value, support,
and respect us. I am now also more selective about who I let into my life. It
has made the burden lighter.)