In May 2007 I wrote an article:
Why am I so Sad?
Today, I feel led to share a revised version of this article:
Brain Injury, Parents and Why Am I So Sad?
I want to share something with you that has helped me. My motivation is to provide insights to the parents that read my blog. My motive is to provide awareness. The beauty in living is that we can make a decision to change our behavior.
Choose to Change our Behavior at any Time.
The process of behavior modification usually begins with awareness that is followed by acceptance and results in action. Awareness provides the opportunity to address whatever is not in our best interest.
Or is in the best interest of the people we love.
Acceptance acts like a Balm
Acceptance acts like a balm to soften the walls of our resistance and bring us to a place of action. The action that we take provides the momentum that resolves our guilt and shame.
When parents do not deal with their shame and guilt, they make their children carry it for them. In many instances, the shame transfer is a learned behavior that is passed from one generation to the next.
Through my recovery process, I have learned many valuable lessons.
A Valuable Lesson
One of the most valuable lessons is that I am not responsible for anyone’s shame or guilt. I do not have to carry the burden of another person’s unresolved guilt or shame.
Each person is given an opportunity to learn and grow from his or her individual experiences.
If they choose to avoid or deny the reasons for their irritability, restlessness and discontentment, I do not have to absorb their pain. Debilitating guilt and debilitating shame can only be resolved through rigorous honesty.
Rigorous honesty with themselves and a commitment to personal accountability.
A Hot Potato
In transactional analysis there is an expression that sums up such a process. It goes something like this; we will work it in, work it out, or project it onto other people through blame, shame, or scapegoating. As I understand this concept, when a person chooses to work it in, they chose to deny that they have shame and guilt and act as though it does not exist.
Although the shame and guilt is denied, it still remains like lava under the surface.
When a person represses shame and guilt, addictive behavior is frequently used to avoid responsibility. When people chose to work it out, they become involved in a recovery process/program. A recovery program process/program to identify and repair the reasons for that shame and guilt. A program that empowers them to stop blaming other people for their shame and guilt.
When people choose to not work a program of recovery, they pass the responsibility onto others. The responsibility for what they experience because of their shame and guilt. Transferring this responsibility onto anyone who is willing to be abused. This passing of the responsibility is likened to passing a “hot potato”.
Passing the hot potato so that they do not have to own their irritability, restlessness and discontent.
Transactional analysis sums up the last behavior as passing the “hot potato”. Passing the hot potato involves making someone else for the reason why they experience their shame, guilt, irritability, restlessness and discontent.
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.
In essence, he made me carry his potatoes whenever they got hot for me. Potatoes (feelings) that he was unable or unwilling to process.
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. But who knew. I had no idea how my life was impacted by the traumatic brain injury so I blamed and shamed myself.
Because my disability was invisible and no one knew, I became a convenient scapegoat for unwanted feelings.
Because of what my dad could not accept what happened to me, I believe he made me responsible. Responsible for the shame and guilt that he carried and did not understand.
Made me responsible for the shame and guilt that he carried, but did not know how to process. Process his guilt and shame onto me for his driving the night of the accident. The car accident that resulted in my traumatic brain injury.
The shame and guilt that stayed with him through out his life that was too painful for him to acknowledge.
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. His blame and criticism of me shielded him. Shielded my dad from having to own and process his guilt and shame.
Process his guilt and shame to be able to forgive himself. Shame and guilt that he had no idea how to process. Shame and guilt that undermined his ability to make and have peace with himself and with me.
I am not angry or bitter at Dad. I am glad I worked through a lot of my hurt and pain. Through my recovery process I have been able to stop carrying my dad’s guilt and shame. My dad’s shame and guilt for not being more.
Being more by not being affected by my brain injury and invisible disability.
I wish my dad could have accepted that I was doing my very best. I wish my dad realized that I was doing the best I could. The best I could as someone living with an invisible disability, instead of blaming, shaming and criticizing me.
I am sad for both my dad and myself, because we could have had a relationship.
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. He told me that he was proud of me on many occasions during those last years. But it no longer mattered.
I wish my dad could and would have had the ability to process his own shame and guilt, but he did not.
I am thankful that I have been able to own my own shame and guilt. That I have been able to process, what my dad was unable to process. I am thankful that I was able to grieve what I could not change to be able to change the things I could.
I am grateful that I am able to stop blaming and shaming myself.
Blaming and shaming myself for not being able to not be impacted by my traumatic brain injury and my invisible disability. I am thankful that I have been able to learn how to use my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that work for me.
In conclusion, I would encourage the parents that are reading this post to encourage your children. Your child may have a brain injury and invisible disability. A brain injury and 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 or meet 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.
Do not put off dealing with your own shame and guilt. Do the work and do not make your children responsible.
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.
May not be able to be or have some other dream that you may 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 living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability.
An individual living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability, who is following after their bliss.
I would invite you to click on this link. The link contains the article series, too. The information may help you to help your children succeed in life.
Discovering a “New Normal” after Experiencing a Brain Injury Video Presentation Series
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