My experience has taught me that when I attempt to gain the support, validation, and approval from people – who have repeatedly shown an inability to grasp my reality – I am figuratively going to the hardware store looking to find bread. The reality is that hardware stores do not supply bread. My experience has taught me that when I refocus my time and energy away from trying to gain the validation, support, and approval from people who can not or will not “get it”, I effectively stop taking on the shame and guilt for being an individual who is living with a brain injury and an invisible disability.
My experience has taught me that when I stop receiving guilt and shame for being an individual — who is living with a brain injury with invisible deficits and limitations — I stop giving away my power to the people who do not or can not accept my reality. As I stop giving my power away to those individuals, I stop allowing these individuals to manipulate and control me through their denial. As I stop allowing people to control and manipulate me – because of what they are unable to accept and thus their denial – I am able to start using my time and energy in ways to empower my life.
In my experience, I discovered that accepting this reality / my reality was not an easy task or process. The denial system (s) of family and friends had a huge pull. In my experience – when the pain of not accepting my reality exceeded the pain of being told I was wrong – I decided to begin considering my reality as the truth. In my experience, I found that I had to / needed to grieve my reality and the denial system (s) – that I had unknowingly bought into for many years as being my reality. I had to grieve my inability to do and be a person who was not impacted by a traumatic brain injury. I had to grieve the reality that my life was not going to take on the form of obtaining the American “dream”, although I had worked hard to achieve both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.
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