If you have not already read Part 1 of this article, please do so before reading Part 2 of this article. Please read Part 1 by clicking HERE
Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am happy to see that you decided to stop by to visit with me. Thank you. As I recently shared on a radio program, I did not begin to accept the reality of the impact of my traumatic brain injury until I was 46 years old – although my traumatic brain injury occurred when I was 10 years old. Consequently, for many years I internalized the difficulties that I encountered as a reflection of being bad and defective. I found myself being blamed, shamed, scapegoated, criticized and berated for not being able to get it right. Little did I know that I was doing the best I could because I carried a tremendous amount of shame for not being able to get “things” right. Little did I know that my inability to get things right was not all about me.
As I shared on the radio program I started attending several 12 Step recovery programs some 25 years ago. I started attending these meetings – not because my parents were alcoholics because neither had a drinking problem – but because a friend suggested that I may benefit from the meetings. My friend was right and during the past several decades I have learned a tremendous amount about myself. Although I had no idea how the affects of my traumatic brain injury impacted my life, I discovered why I reacted to life. With my ongoing awareness, I was and have been able to make changes – with the grace of a loving God – to enhance my life. In the next several articles I will share some of those life changing awareness’s with you my friend.
Several years ago I wrote the below article. Because of the length of the article and the above introduction, I have divided this article into several parts. Below is the 2nd and final part of the article.
Whose Shame are you Carrying? Part 2
In my experience, my Dad’s inability or unwillingness to accept that I had a disability motivated his behavior. He blamed me for not being able to be more and do more. His criticism of my best efforts made me responsible for his disappointment. My Dad could not or would not accept that I was doing the best I could, given the fact that I was a traumatic brain injury survivor. I also believe that my Dad transferred his guilt and shame onto me for his driving the night of the accident that caused the damage to my brain. Because my Dad was unable to process his own guilt and shame, he transferred that guilt and shame on to me in the form of blame and criticism.
I am not angry or bitter at Dad. I am glad I worked through a lot of my hurt and pain and was able to stop carrying my Dad’s guilt and shame for not being more. I believe that I am more than enough, disability and all. I am not my traumatic brain injury, but my brain injury changed the course of my life forever. I wish my Dad could have accepted that I was doing my very best, rather than wanting me to be someone with out a disability. I am sad for both my Dad and myself, because we could have had a much better relationship for many years before he died. His acceptance of my disability came in the last 3-4 years of my Dad’s life and he was able to accept that I was doing my very best. He also told me that he was proud of me on many occasions during those last years.
In conclusion, I would encourage the parents that are reading this post to encourage your children. Your child may have an invisible disability that has gone undetected for many years. If you want your child to excel avoid blaming, shaming and criticizing them for not being more. They may not be able to reach your expectations, however they may be doing the best that they can. By acknowledging this reality, you will be able to cultivate an empowering relationship with your children that will last a lifetime.
Parents by nature want their children to grow up to be professional adults. Having such a hope is not wrong, however your child may never be able to become a Doctor or a Lawyer or some other dream you have for them. Encourage your children, teenagers and young adults to follow their dreams, not yours. Nurture their strengths and you will both get what you desire, an empowered individual who is following after their bliss.
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