I hate shopping. Even before my brain injury I hated it but at least I could spend several hours going to the various stores in the mall until I found what I was looking for. I would then continue my day by going to my other appointments. Now this is impossible. The lights and sounds drive me crazy and I can only stay for a short time before I must leave to “rest my brain.” I needed to get a few things and I’ve been putting it off since it’s so much trouble. Finally yesterday I decided to go to JCPenney which had everything I needed.
I like JCPenney because I can park right outside the door and not have to go into the mall. I’ve tried going to malls before but my spatial orientation challenges and sensitivity to light and sound makes this too hard. My first purchase was blue jeans. There was music playing and I almost took out my ear plugs which I always carry with me but I decided I would try and manage. Sometimes this is easier then attempting to ignore the stares when people see me wearing ear plugs! After rooming around trying to find the jeans – I always buy the same kind since they’re the only ones that seem to fit – I discovered they no longer carry them so I had to try on a few others. This meant more time in the bright light and loud sounds.
After settling on a pair, I moved on to the purses. They only had about a million so I began searching through them. At one point, I was mistaken for an employee because I had several purses strewn on the floor around me trying to see if they would carry what I needed. After settling on one purse from the million, I moved on to the belts. I felt a bit overstimulated but I wanted to get everything done. Again, they had blue, red, silver and every other color you could think of. I wanted a brown belt. Not a brown belt with rhinestones or with a decorated buckle – just a simple brown belt. I was almost ready to leave when I found one. I went to pay for my purchases and the only folks in JCPenney on a week day were all at the register paying. So of course, I had to wait in line.
My next challenge was trying to get out of the store. There’s only three floors but I couldn’t remember where I had parked. After describing to an employee what was by the door I entered, she gave me directions back to it. I managed to get to the correct floor but I turned the wrong way and ended up at the wrong door. I get lost a lot so I’m used to ending up in the wrong place. I turned around and walked the other way which took me to the correct door. After 1 1/2 hours, I was exhausted.
I recently read a blog post by Chris Glaser titled, “Do Progressive Christians Pray?” (99brattle.blogspot.com) In it he writes, “The Desert Fathers and Mothers believed prayer was not about changing God’s mind or heart but about their own transformation.” There have been times when I’ve been really lost – not just lost in a store – but lost driving in a city – when I’ve issued a plea to God “Oh please help me find my way home again!” Sometimes I even pray before I go somewhere, “Help me not get lost.”
I have a brain injury which means I have spatial orientation problems and God cannot take this away. But God can transform my own spirit so I can accept these challenges with grace. God can give me wisdom to go shopping at a time when the store isn’t busy. God can also guide me to go only when it is best for me. Of course, this means I have to set limits for myself which can be frustrating.
Not everyone with a brain injury has as much difficulty in stores as I do. Are stores hard for you? What things are difficult for you now? Feel free to comment or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org