During my lifetime, I have been confronted with challenges, obstacles, and disappointments. In the scope of this brief autobiography I will share some of these events and circumstances. The purpose of sharing my experiences with you is not to blame, shame or to point a finger in anyone’s direction. I have found that little benefit comes through such behavior. Living life on life’s terms, to me, means that I deny the notion that I am a victim of my circumstances.
I have also arrived at some simple but profound conclusions. It is my belief that I cannot hope to know until I have learned the lesson. These lessons have often come through the pain of struggle. I have also come to believe that life is best understood backwards, and that is good enough for today. I also believe that perfection is a myth that if sought after will only bind one’s soul. Pursuing excellence on the other hand encourages creative expression and creative expression gives meaning to all life.
With this being said, I will begin. I learned at an early age that good was not quite good enough. I was also led to believe that my meaning and purpose was connected to what I accomplished. Because my best was seldom good enough, I rarely believed that I was quite good enough because I did not live up to expectations. In the context of measuring up to expectations, I was led to believe that it was my responsibility to take care of other people emotionally before I could hope to have a sense of well-being. If someone was out of sorts emotionally, I internalized responsibility for their distress. Consequently, I would attempt to fix them emotionally. If I could not appease or “fix” them emotionally, I would be blamed for their irritability, restlessness and discontentment. I would then in turn shame myself for not being able to “fix” them emotionally. These combined messages kept me confused, bewildered and anxious, as I was rarely able to meet their expectations and/or able to “fix” anyone emotionally.
A significant event occurred when I was 10 years old that further complicated my ability to grasp social cues and be consistently successful inter-personally. My family was in a motor vehicle accident. Upon impact — the Cadillac hitting our Volkswagen Beetle — I was catapulted from the back seat to the windshield. On the way forward, I fractured my left femur (thigh bone) on the back of my Dad’s bucket seat and then hit the windshield. As a result of making contact with the windshield, I sustained an open skull fracture. The consequences of my skull being fractured resulted in damage to my right frontal lobe (executive center functioning), a severe brain contusion (bruising of my brain as it was jostled against the inside of the skull), and some brain stem involvement/damage.
I was in a coma for 3 weeks, traction for 6-7 weeks to set my femur and then placed in a spica or full body cast for 4-5 months. Shortly after being placed in the full body cast, I was transferred to another hospital where I underwent brain and skull surgery. In follow-up to the brain surgery, I underwent a battery of tests (EEG’s and cognitive/ psycho/social) to determine the damage to my brain, my cognitive skills and my social function capabilities.
The results from these tests were given to my parents. My parents were told — that due to the extent of my brain injury — I would probably not be able to succeed beyond high school. My parents made the decision — at the time — not to reveal the findings of these tests results. I did not become aware of the results from these tests until after I obtained my Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling — some 29 years later.
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