Hi, and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am glad you decided to stop by and visit with me. I have been thinking and meditating on / about how I have been able to come out of isolation. I share the below events to help you understand my process, not to complain or point my finger in anyone’s direction. Neither one of those choices have proven to be effective or empowering. In my experience I needed to identify my process in order to learn from my journey.
For approximately 39 years of my life I functioned as a traumatic brain injury survivor through a web of denial. The denial system convinced me that even though I had experienced a traumatic brain injury at the age of 10 — that left me in a 3 week long coma — that my life was in no way impacted by that traumatic brain injury. Unknowingly I internalized the difficulties that I was experiencing within social and employment settings as a reflection of my inadequacy. I felt inadequate because I was unable to live up to the expectations that people had for me. I internalized a sense of shame for matters that were out of my control – i.e. the deficits and limitations that became part of who I was as a person – post traumatic brain injury.
For many years I attempted to circumvent the impact of my deficits and limitations through people pleasing, approval seeking and mind reading. As you might imagine none of these strategies proved to be effective. I could not do more to be more in order to be enough. My ongoing attempts to anticipate and successfully satisfy the expectation’s various people had for me kept me frustrated and confused. With time I became more withdrawn and self-deprecating, which frequently left me depressed and isolated. At the age of 17 I had a spiritual awakening. The impact of that spiritual awakening led me to begin a personal crusade to root out the reasons for my difficulties. In my attempt to root out my difficulties I attended a myriad of churches, spent countless hours in bible study, scripture memorization and prayer. In my quest to be a better person and to help other people I obtained my undergraduate degree in theology.
I then applied for admittance and was accepted to begin Seminary in the fall of 1985, however due to what I thought was my sin I was asked to not come back to seminary for my 2nd year of classes.
You see I was led to believe that the difficulties I was experiencing in complex social setting were because I had unrepentant sin in my life. Consequently, I needed to identify and turn away from the sin that so easily beset me (Hebrews 12:1-2 New Testament) before I could be at peace with God and other people. Upon leaving seminary and through a series of events I was able to move into the basement of a man who was going through a divorce and whose wife was an alcoholic. Several weeks after I moved into the man’s basement he suggested that I begin attending some support group meetings that he was also attending. At his suggestion I attended my first 12 Step support group meeting in August 1986. Because of an ongoing denial system, the impact of my traumatic brain injury would remain minimized for another 13 more years.
Because I was continuing to have conflicts when interacting in social settings — at the encouragement of a friend — I started attending support group meetings.
In my pursuit of securing employment I applied to and was accepted into a graduate program. I began attending classes in the fall of 1987. 2 ½ years later I graduated with my master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. During both my undergraduate and graduate programs I encountered similar social difficulties amidst my practicums, internships and work related settings. After graduation I had a series of jobs in professional work settings that ultimately resulted in my being fired or terminated. After being employed by the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation as a counselor, through a series of events I became a client of that Department of Vocational Rehabilitation after 15 months of employment. You see I was having difficulty writing individualized written rehabilitation plans as well as interacting with some of the other staff. The transition from counselor to client left me confused and bewildered.
Please read Part 2 for context. Thank you.
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