Books · What Others Don't See

The Lonely Are Such Delicate Things

The neurosurgeon Henry Marsh in his book Do No Harm quotes René Leriche, La Philosophie De La Chirurgie, 1951” (Philosophy of Surgery)

Every surgeon carries within himself a small cemetery, where from time to time he goes to pray – a place of bitterness and regret, where he must look for an explanation for his failures.

I’ve only just realised that brain injury survivors carry within themselves something as heavy as this, something that from more than time to time they visit. It’s a list, a mental list of all the comments people have said that have affected us in some way.

After just over seven years I’ve finally figured out the categories:

The ones you’re too shocked to say anything about, ever

These are usually off hand stupid remarks from strangers who don’t understand. You’re too shocked because you can’t believe people are actually that stupid or ignorant, they don’t affect you as much as personal ones because brain injury isn’t known unless you have one or know someone with one. Yet, somehow they still stay with you.

The ones you didn’t think would happen

These ones hurt the most. These are the ones you didn’t think would ever happen, the ones where you never imagined that person would say that to you. Perhaps you build up the courage to say something later, perhaps you don’t. Either way, no matter what outcome, this type of comment always lives at the top of your list.

Instant reactions

No filter reactions. These are the angry ones, the ones where you’re shocked in the moment and don’t know you need to say something until the words come out and you’ve reacted. This kind of reaction means you’ve got the feeling off your chest straight away so this type of comment can live at the bottom of your list.


The lonely are such delicate things. We feel these reactions alone, we feel the response from the other person alone, we feel the lack of understanding from the other person alone and too much we feel the lack of apology from the other person alone.

I see myself as a survivor but I never thought the in-between times would slowly break me as a person. I wish reactions to these comments were all instant, it’s so much harder going through life being hurt.


Where The Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak: My view on this book is Max visits his demons, his wild side… His mental list.

This is just my personal experience. It would be nice to know how/do you categorise your reactions to comments? Can you let them go? Let me know in the comment section below or on the facebook pagetwitter or instagram.

Blog and blog title inspired by A Comet Appears – The Shins. I’ve just added this Playlist to my YouTube: Songs That Inspired Blog Posts.

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