Being whole again part I
Moving Forward Series
Meena Dhanjal Outlaw
I spend a good bit of my spare time volunteering. For several years now, I have found myself in the position of leading various support groups. It just so happens that one of these groups is in the city where I reside.
It’s nice to know that our friendly neighbor, TIRR Memorial Hermann agreed to let me lead a group at their facility for all disabilities. This particular group meets on a Saturday once a month. Specifically, we always meet on the third Saturday of each month. We are still in our first year, and it is rapidly growing. Many of the people that attend happen to be patients at this facility, and still somewhat in a steady phase of physical or occupational therapy.
Being a part of people’s lives in such a vulnerable way isn’t something I sought. Though, I do feel a sense of kinship.
I could always understand their body language. I knew when they were being strong, but hurting on the inside.
I also could tell those that seemed ambitious with what they wanted to do in their new future, like writing a book.
In time, as our lives continue with our disability, and becoming a thought in the back of our mind, it is obvious we are also seeking to fill a void.
I always wondered why many people with a disability feel as though they want to use their position to gain recognition in the world?
Yes, of course we want to tell our story and share with others.
My first book was about the aftermath of my injury. I had it published because I really wanted to just have it out there in case it could be of help to another. Funny enough, it became help to many.
As I became well known because of my writing success, something else came as well, jealousy. For some reason, I found myself bumping heads rather than dishing out hugs.
This saddened me, and I pulled away emotionally, keeping people around me at an arm’s length. This was my “defense mechanism” for not wanting to get hurt. As people seemed so happy for me, it didn’t take long before they made negative comments trying to diminish what I have achieved.
The silver lining is that it has also allowed me to surround myself with people I knew I could trust to have my best interest at heart. I also learned a deeper lesson, which is to not feel like I need to get everyone’s approval to be happy, which if we are truly honest with ourselves, am our main crux. Alas, most of us seek out approval, acceptance, and affection in all the wrong places.
In our cases, it takes the vulnerability of a disability to lift us out of what would normally be not such a good reason. Next thing you know, we have surrounded ourselves with people who don’t have good intentions for us at all.
Nevertheless, in consideration of all that I have seen and been through in my journey, there is one critical issue which most of us seem to always be subconsciously seeking. That is to be heard and understood. We can’t find that in our everyday lives, so we venture out using the far depths of media and publications.
Having a debilitating condition doesn’t just blow in any typical storm. It comes in with the vengeance of a horrific hurricane. The result is each of us that have gone through this can truly tell you what it is like to experience real pain.
As early on as the very beginnings of our disabilities, we already know we are different. We also know that some people will never see us as any other way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always just stop there.