Saturday, October 23, 2010


"Can you help me find my keys?"
"I'm sorry. What are "keys"?"
"Uh - keys. You know. Keys. Car keys."

Shaking his head. "No. Sorry. I'm not familiar with that phrase. Carkees? Can you explain what you mean by that?"

"Keys. I need them for starting the car," pointing at the car, sitting right there in plain sight. He looks past the car to a set of trees, nodding knowingly, like he has any idea what I'm saying, as though I am completely daft.

Getting upset, and very annoyed. "KEYS. How am I supposed to explain keys? Where have you been that you don't understand keys? I have to find them, and I can't find them. Where the hell are they; I can't leave until I find them."

"Okay, okay, calm down. I will find them. I will find them. Tell me what they are, and where they are located, and I will find them for you. I don't understand why you need them, but obviously, you are very upset."

Blank look. Incredulous look.

"I don't see why you're getting upset with me. I am trying to help you. I told you I will find your keys, you just need to explain to me what they are and where they are."

"If I could tell you where they are, I wouldn't need you to look for them."

"Well now you're just being rude. I can't help you if you refuse to tell me where to find what it is you're missing."

(though this scene sounds rather plausible given what often really does happen, it's fictional. I was just thinking of how tired I am of trying to explain to very earnest people what this is like, who and what I am missing, trying to describe me to people who don't understand what I'm saying, and I am so tired of trying to explain and explain and explain what used to not need any description at all. It's like being asked to find what you need, then un-find it again, after teaching someone what it is and where to find it, so they can then help you after you've forgotten again. Or, to have spoken russian, only to have a brain injury that makes your native language temporarily unavailable, and to get it back, you need someone who speaks russian - but no one even knows what russian is, and they are irritated with you for not being able to teach them, because they only want to help. So now, you are supposed to suddenly access your Russian, teach it to someone else, then go back to being brain injured, so that they can then help you to heal. Right. Okay, enough analogies. For now.)


  1. I understand this *exactly*.
    I don't know where your keys are either, but I know what they are, I know how you feel for losing them and I'll help you look.

  2. wns - me too.

    those who don't need it explained get it. Sharing this analogy with the uninitiated seems to still not quite get there, but really, how could it. I would like my keys back now. And my russian. And everything else too.


  3. I think the key to not-getting-it is that people can't imagine not being the person they once were. Which is one of the earth-shattering things - that not only is he gone, the person I was because of him is gone too.