Oh, looking for that someone or something to blame… anything to direct your anger, to point a finger, to say, “It’s all your fault”!
I was once hardened by putting the blame, and the work of getting better, onto someone else. To me, that seemed to be an entitlement of sorts! But what I figured out, through sorting through the noise of blame, was that I was just trying to find a way out of having to feel the reality of where a situation had placed me After all, I certainly didn’t want to be there so it has to be someone else’s fault! Right?
Often the act of blame becomes a self-inflicted wound to the person experiencing a life altering change in themselves. One can become consumed with trying to find the answer to why someone let it happen in the first place – but really, look all you want – there are no answers, it is what it is, it happened, there is nothing you can do to change it. Of course, please let me be clear that yes, there may be other players into how one acquires a disability – an accident took place, a medical mistake happened, an illness took form. I was incredibly full of blame towards my medical team for their mistake – yes, they made a mistake and now I get to live with the results. Thank you very much. But let’s ponder a few of the words I just used here – accident, mistake, illness… Accidents happen, so do mistakes, and illness happens all the time to all kinds of people. We can blame, but can we not also understand that life happens as it does? Can we pause the blame and play our life? I think we can – but letting go of blame means the pause button has to be pressed.
There are so many ways one can reinvent life by inviting life building experiences accumulated throughout pre-disability into a post-disability life. Those experiences are ones gifts, assets, strengths, and talents and those are ones attributes that can never disappear. They are pieces of one’s self on which exist a wonderful foundation to discover and build a customized new world for yourself. What I think is great about this are the endless creative opportunities that exist! Imagine, getting to discover all over again but this time having knowledge and skills already in place – we’re ahead of the blame!
When we were growing up we learned everything through experience. We were taught how to do things, how to be polite, persevering, what feelings were, what being responsible meant, how to talk by learning language, we learned how to read and write and do arithmetic. We’ve all been through good and bad learning experiences too. We’ve had our hearts broken, we’ve lost our favorite pet, and we’ve lost our Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, maybe even our Mom and Dad’s and other loved ones. We’ve lost things very important to us, right? We probably even blamed someone too. But even still, all of those experiences were learning experiences and will always be a part of us.
This turned out to be an important insight for me. I revisited myself before disability to reflect on those things that made me, well, me. I wallowed in memories that have shaped me, but had to work hard on staying away from stepping towards the “well, that’ll never happen again” noise. But it was when I said to myself, “Hey, guess what – most of your memories were experiences that only happened once, they are done with and you moved on, you made it though!”. So, if I thought about my past experiences in that way, perhaps I could begin to think about my past as my stepping stones to my introduction to disability and to where I am at this very moment. You see, I lost things before, things I thought I could never, ever live without. Turns out, those were the very things that lent a hand to my living.