Well today is Monday and I am happy to be alive. Welcome back frequent fliers and guests. Self-acceptance is an ongoing process for me. In many instances I am concrete literal in my thinking, especially when I interact with other people. Yesterday afternoon while talking with a friend, I grew in that awareness. During our conversation I was able to openly share with my friend. I explained that because I am not able to read some social nuances and subtitles — in real time — I sometimes am misunderstood. I was able to use part of our conversation to illustrate that part of my disability. My friend made the comment that, “You are a smart guy and with time you could learn how to read nuances and social subtitles in real time”. I told him that his appraisal of my potential was like many other people who know little about traumatic brain injury. I explained to my friend that sometimes I am unable to accurately process my interactions with people until after our interaction has ended. I went on to explain that my “lag” time in processing subtle information often led to a breach in my relationships. I went on to explain that the “lag” time in my ability to process subtle information created stress in many of my relationships. During our conversation I told my friend, that in many instances I found more solace being alone than having to process the guilt and shame for being misunderstood. Much of the guilt and shame was generated because I was criticized or ostracized for what could not be understood.
Having the opportunity to share openly with my friend helped our relationship. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share openly and honestly with my friend. I believe that our friendship will now be able to grow unencumbered by what he did not understand. Having an invisible disability can create misunderstandings apart from honest and open communication. In many instances I have found that people do not take the time to understand. I am glad that I had the opportunity to share how my invisible disability impedes my ability to be successful in some relationships. Self-awareness enables me to share openly and honestly with the people who God has brought into my life. I am not less than because the damage to my brain impedes my ability to read subtitles and social nuances in real time. I am happy I no longer need to live shackled by shame and guilt because I am unable to process social nuances and subtitles in real time.
You may have a traumatic brain injury or some other disability that some people in your world who may not understand or accept my friend. That is not your problem, however you can be empowered by disclosing how your disability has changed your world. In my experience, there have only been a few people who have taken the time to understand. I have discovered that those individuals are my friends, where as those individuals who do not taken time to understand my disability are merely acquaintances. Although I have wanted more people to understand how my disability impacted my life over the years (including my Dad while he was alive) I have come to realize that self-acceptance and self-awareness are most vital. As I accept myself as a person who has been impacted by a traumatic brain injury, I no longer need to deny my reality to accommodate a lack of willingness to understand. I am free to be who I am as a traumatic brain injury survivor; a unique individual pursuing excellence. I do not have to attempt to be someone who does not have a traumatic brain injury. As you and I accept who we are as disabled individuals — not defective individuals — we will be empowered to be who we are created to be in this life. Our destinies are not dependent upon anyone’s willingness to understand. I am convinced that I will fulfill my destiny because of my disability.
Receive more articles like this one simply by clicking on Subscribe to Second Chance to Live by email.
All material presented on Second Chance to Live is copyright and cannot be copied, reproduced, or distributed in any way without the express, written consent of Craig J. Phillips, MRC, BA