Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live my friend. I am happy to have you back around my table. Several days ago I wrote an article Denial and Brain Injury Recovery. In that article, I spoke about how denial (mine, family and friends) kept me stuck. Denial kept me focused on matters that were out of my control. Matters that I was powerless to change. In yesterday’s article, Brain Injury and Anger; I about how facing my denial led to my being angry at my reality. Angry at the reality that I did not want to face, much less accept. I also shared that I continued to be angry until I came to my senses and realized how my anger was doing me no good.
Through becoming aware, I started to realize that my anger was only serving to undermine, sabotage and keep me distracted. With my awareness that my anger was only hurting me, I set out on a crusade to disprove that my life was being impacted by a brain injury. After being terminated as a counselor and a client of the department of vocational rehabilitation in Florida, I found myself terminated from a series of jobs. But being fired from several more jobs did not deter me. I applied for and was recruited to work as a certified rehabilitation counselor for an insurance company in North Carolina. After relocating and beginning the job, four months later I was told that they no longer needed my services and I was terminated. This job would be my last as a rehabilitation counselor and the end of my attempts at trying to bargain my way out.
And as I shared in my article, Brain Injury and Anger, my inability to “bargain” my way out was “stamped” by the evaluation results — deemed unemployable — by the department of vocational rehabilitation in North Carolina. What became clear to me was that my attempts to make work, what had not worked for many years; could no longer be denied. Although family and friends still wanted, or maybe even needed me to deny my reality; I realized that I could no longer go on blaming myself for not trying hard enough. What became more clear to me was that I could no longer deny my reality and stay sane. But, with this realization came a struggle. Although I had worked hard in a myriad of attempts to overcome what I had denied and defended, my hard work seemed in vain. With my struggle to make sense of what could no longer be denied, I experienced depression and despondency.
I remained depressed and despondent because all of my efforts, over the course of 37 years; to “fight” my way out of the proverbial “brown paper bag” had failed. I remained depressed and despondent because I had literally turned over every imaginable “rock” in my attempts to find a way to not be impacted by what I could not understand. However, thank God that I did not give up. With time and by realizing that some thing needed to change, I began to grasp the reality that what I had been doing, for all those years; was not working. In the midst of my beginning to grasp this reality, my best friend, at the time; and I attended a movie. The movie, A Beautiful Mind. As I watched the movie and later discussed the movie will my friend some thing became clear to me. There were invisible disabilities. Although John Nash, portrayed by Russell Crow; looked normal he still had a disability.
As I watched the movies and the “light bulb” came on I began to accept that although I looked normal, I was living with an invisible disability. Although my physical wounds had healed long ago and that I had been able to achieve beyond all reasonable expectations, my life had continued to be impacted by an open skull fracture and a severe brain injury. The impact of an injury, that occurred many years before; yet remained invisible to all. With the realization that my life had and was being impacted by an invisible disability, I experienced hope. Although I had been convinced otherwise by denial and the anger that I had turned inward, my reality started to become real to me. As my reality became real to me, my depression eased. As my depression eased I slowly began to accept my reality. The reality that I had denied and the denial I had defended for many, many years.
As my level of acceptance grew so did the realization that I could create and have a good life. A life that would work for me. A life that would be worth living. A life in which I could create and offer hope to the people who wanted what I had to offer.
Lessons — Nothing Wasted
As the reality that my life had and was being impacted by what I could not see, I found a new freedom. A freedom that I had never known. A freedom that revealed to me that the work and struggle to move through each stage of the grieving process was not in vain. A freedom that showed me what I needed to learn. A freedom that revealed to me that nothing had been wasted, while I remained in denial. A freedom that revealed to me that the lessons learned, during my exile in denial; were being brought forward. A freedom that revealed to me that nothing had or would be wasted.
A freedom that revealed to me that I no longer needed to feel like a square peg in a world of round holes. A freedom that revealed to me that I could create my own hole. A freedom to create a right sized hole. A hole in which I would fit and learn how to excel. A freedom in which I could learn to create and offer hope. A freedom in which I could use my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that would work for me. A freedom to realize that I no longer had to limit myself because of other people’s inability to accept my reality. A freedom to follow my dreams. A freedom to pursue my destiny.
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