Second Chance to Live

Sharing Hope in the Face of Adversity — One Piece at a Time

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Process of Grieving – Part 3

Posted by Second Chance to Live on May 27, 2008

Here are links to each part of the article.  Simply click on each link and that Part will open on you: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and in conclusion Part 7

Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am happy to see that you decided to stop by and visit with me. Yesterday, I spoke about the 1st stage in my grieving process. In that post I shared how denial acted as an active adversary in my recovery process. I then went on to speak to the need to confront denial for the impact denial was having upon my life. In Part 1 of this series I used several metaphors to describe the effect that denial was having upon my life. One of these metaphors was the door.

When I decided to confront denial, I became aware of how my life had been infected by a lie. As I examined the strategies that denial used to avoid the truth I started having spiritual awakenings. One of these spiritual awakenings revealed that denial had been acting as a door, in that denial denied access to any and all unwanted thoughts or feelings. In effect, whenever any unwanted thoughts or feelings sought to be heard or experienced, denial would discount and minimize the relevance of those thoughts and feelings. Denial imposed a code of avoidance to mask what needed to be addressed.

Denial through shame actively sought to silence my reality.

In a denial system that seeks to maintain that reality does not exist, feelings are considered a threat, especially those feelings that trigger a sense of shame. Shame is different than guilt, in that shame is a being wound. Debilitating guilt and debilitating shame are very similar in that the individual is led to believe that they don’t just make mistakes, but they believe they are a mistake. As a traumatic brain injury survivor – with an invisible disability — I was led to believe that because I did not live up to expectations I was a mistake. For many years I internalized my inability to live up to expectations.

Despite all of my efforts to prove that I was not a mistake, I still believed that I was a mistake.

Because I was led to believe that I did not just make mistakes, but that I was a mistake I remained in denial. For many years I sought to justify my worth and value through people pleasing, approval seeking and mind reading. I attempted to do more to be enough. When these strategies failed I sought to discard parts of myself that I found to be displeasing to my family, friends, teachers, schoolmates, employers and coworkers in an attempt to prove that I was not a mistake. Slowly, but progressively denial stole bits and pieces of my reality. In the process of discarding parts of my reality, I discarded parts of myself.

As I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, when I realized how denial was limiting my life I made a decision to confront denial. When I began to confront denial, I experienced various reactions. Among these reactions was anger. I was angry at myself, angry at other people and angry at my reality. My anger many times came out side ways because I did not know how to express my anger in healthy ways. I was angry at my deficits and limitations. I was angry at life in general because I felt helpless in many ways. In the process of confronting both my and other people’s denial — per my reality — I discovered that I had and held resentments toward various people, places, churches, educational institutions and employers.

Further confrontation of my denial revealed that I also had and held resentments towards myself.

The article continues in Part 4. To read part 4 of the article, please click on the following link: Part 4 

As you read this article and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good question. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. You may send your question (s) or comment (s) by clicking on this link: Contact Page.

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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 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND

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