Hi, and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am always glad to see you my friend. Yesterday I began a series Traumatic Brain Injury – On the Road to Healing. When I noticed that few people showed an interest in reading that post I decided to simplify the title to, On the Road to Healing. My motivation is present titles that attract a wide base of readers. Although I am a traumatic brain injury survivor, I have a wide range of personal and practical experience as a professional. During a conversation with my best friend last night, he made a statement that sums up my dilemma. He stated that because I have 3 degrees, a bachelor’s in Theology, a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Ph.D. in the school of Hard Knocks some people may think that I am misrepresenting myself as a traumatic brain injury survivor.
Some may even think that as a traumatic brain injury survivor, I should not be able to speak intelligently from a wide range of experience. Consequently, those individuals may not take the time to read the material that I present as a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor. Other people may read some of my published material and think that they can not related to me because they are not disabled in some way. The reality of the matter is that people who do not have a disability are potentially one breath away from becoming disabled in some way or fashion. Having a disability is not a death sentence. Being a traumatic brain injury survivor has provided a rich wealth of experience that I can draw upon to enrich and empower both my life and the lives of those individuals with and without disabilities. My experience as a traumatic brain injury survivor is priceless.
Early in my academic training I had a class in Sociology. In this class, one particular piece of information has stuck with me for over 30 years: labels. When people place labels upon other people they do a disservice to themselves as well as to those individuals who are labeled. Labels limit and keep us from benefiting beyond our prejudices. Stereotypes also hinder our ability to receive from one another. Judging based on stereotypes or labels short circuits our capacity to love both others and ourselves. When I limit people because of my preconceived notions, I limit myself. I unconsciously erect walls that may very well block the miracle that I have been praying to receive. I also limit myself when I presume that I can not possibly learn based on my biases.
To my readers who do not have a disability, please be open to learn from people with disabilities. You may have friends who are disabled or you may know of people who posess visible or invisible disabilities. Those individuals can enhance your quality of living by providing a wealth of practical experience. Although we have a disability, we are not those disabilities. We are unique and very special people who posess a disability. Having a disability opens and provides a new dimension to living.
Finally I will share something I learned when I was in graduate school. The director of the graduate program in Rehabilitation Counseling strongly encouraged education by our clients. Education by our clients means that as counselors we need to encourage people with disabilities to be open with others. By telling people about our disabilities we are empowered and they are enlightened. As we share who we are as people with disabilities, we dispel societal stigma and are able to “stand strong”, metaphorically speaking. When we educate people about our disabilities we dismiss the notion that we are victims and declare boldly that we are empowered beings who posess a disability.
Table Topics for the Soul – Journey to the Heart. LC Registration #: TXu1-330-434
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