Hello and welcome back to the Second Chance to Live. I am happy to have you around my table. You are a gift to me. In today’s article I am going to share what helped me to begin to look at my life in a different way. A way in which I could take ownership of my life, instead of continuing to feel helpless. A way in which I could begin to have a “say so” in my life, instead of continuing to feel victimized by events. A way in which I could begin to interpret events in my life as opportunities, instead of as gauntlets to survive.
A way that would empower me to use my creative capacity in ways that would work for me, instead of feeling stuck in a “box” of dependence fostered by ignorance and a societal stigmatization. A way that helped me to get out of myself to consider the possibilities. A way that would remind me that I have choices, instead of continuing to believe that I am a prisoner of fate. A fate that I can do little to change, but accept. A fate that I could only hope to endure.
In my life and through much pain, I reached an “emotional and spiritual bottom”. With this “bottom” I realized that I could no longer deny my reality. I realized that I could no longer defend the denial that many people wanted me to maintain. My denial, as well as family and friends denial. The denial that served to keep me confused, baffled and stuck. The denial that kept me focused on what I was powerless over to change. The denial that kept me floundering and racing about on the proverbial “gerbil wheel”, but going nowhere. The denial that led me to believe that if I just tried harder, I could prove that I did not have a brain injury. The denial that kept me striving to do more to be enough. The denial that offered me little hope.
The denial that gave me no solutions.
In the context of this article, I am referring to my unknowingly living with the impact of a traumatic brain injury and an invisible disability for many years. The impact of an open skull fracture that occurred in an automobile accident in 1967 when I was 10 years old. The impact of residual deficits and limitations that created challenges that I did my best to overcome, unsuccessfully. The impact of which, I sought to deny so as to not be enough.
Some things I learned about Denial — Mine and other people’s’ denial.
Denial, kept me stuck and fixated. Denial bullied me. Denial hindered me. Denial sought to keep me from accepting and experiencing my humanity. Denial kept me believing a lie. Denial led me to believe that I was a mistake. Denial sought to convince me that I could do nothing about that lie. Denial sought to blind my ability to recognize and process my feelings. Denial sought to limit me, by convincing me that I could not make or take positive steps that would enhance my life. Denial sought to block my ability to create in ways that would work for me. Denial sought to confine me.
What I discovered about denial was that denial is like a warm blank. A warm blanket that family and friends needed to wear. A warm blanket that protected them from feelings that were too painful to feel. A warm blanket, that justified their not making changes. Changes that were either too painful, difficult or that they were unwilling to make. A warm blanket that convinced them that denial was the “truth” and acceptance was a “lie”.
When my conditioned need to deny my reality was superseded by the pain of no longer being able to deny my reality, I “rocked the boat”. In the process of moving out from under the “warm blanket” I experienced challenges from family and friends. Despite all the determination that I had used to justify the effects of the “warm blank”, I realized the I could no longer deny what I had been experiencing for many, many years. I realized that I could no longer deny my reality. I realized that I needed to stop blaming myself for the impact of a traumatic brain injury and an invisible disability.
I realized that I needed to examine patterns. The patterns that occurred over the course of the previous 39 years. I realized that I needed to begin to look at my life in a different way. I realized that I needed to begin telling myself the truth, instead of continuing believe and tell myself lies.
I needed to own my truth.
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