Tonight I had a brief visit with Corey. I left early to attend a lecture and listen to a motivational speaker. The topic, “Hope, Hopelessness and Healing. The Journey of Reawakening Joy” by Dr. Dan Gottlieb. Dr. Gottlieb survived a near fatal car accident 30 years ago that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Dr. Gottlieb shared what it is like to be disabled; considered among the “other” category. His accident obviously changed his life and his perspective of himself. It changed the way people looked at him. He was no longer the “same”. He shared that all humans want the same thing. To be loved, cared for and respected. All anyone wants is to feel that they are apart of their community and circle of friends. Once he became disabled, people saw the wheelchair and not the man. His talk started with a message to “Give up Hope that all will be okay when ____” (fill in the blank). Stop spending our today’s in the future. We are living in the present…there is Joy to be experienced in today.
I thought of Corey and how frustrated she is that she can’t communicate. I also know she’s not happy about coming home. She must be thinking, ‘what will people think when they see me”? She is not who she “was”. Dr. Gottlieb shared the emotions of shame, disconnect, loneliness and fear. All anyone really wants is love, acceptance and normalcy. He also stated ‘Fear blocks Joy’. Joy is found each day despite the physical challenges, but only when we can “Let Go and Let In” whatever is positive that the day has to offer. This is the life we have…we have a choice to live it to the fullest or squander it with negative thoughts and emotions.
Dr. Gottlieb explained that it’s easy to “beat up on your self” but it’s Self Compassion that brings well being. Compassion defined is ‘looking in to’. It’s looking at your self with a kind eye; looking within to find the joy. Often times, we do not feel the joy in our daily lives because we are searching to “FIX IT”, whatever “IT” is. We have to start looking at our selves and others with more compassion. We often will try to control the situation because we can’t tolerate our own helplessness. That statement resonated with me. As a mom, I can’t help but mourn the loss of Corey’s senior year, parties, gradation, sleepovers, her stories of work, planning for college. This is normal for a parent. I must have compassion for myself. Allow the mourning of the past and future but don’t forget we are together in the present. There is a lot of life and love in today!
Corey I wish you could have been with me tonight. The “take away” from this evening was not just listening, meeting Dr. Gottlieb and learning from his perspective but on the awareness of the progress that is made each day; learning compassion, being gentle with ourselves and the emotions that are normal from living with our new life. Focus on living life in the day/moment and most importantly remembering that you are still the same person you were…INSIDE. The outside might have changed, but inside you are who you’ve always been; a strong, dynamic, smart, funny, energetic and loving young woman. You are not the girl with Traumatic Brain Injury. You are the girl that survived an accident. You are the young woman that has a life today that is filled with people who care, accept and love you. You are still Corey Beattie. XOXO