I have several disabilities. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I also have mobility issues, nerve damage and pain related to a broken back and five spinal surgeries. I cannot measure myself with the same yardstick that "normal" people use. Having PTSD means I deal with a lot of fear, rage, irritability, shame, guilt, anxiety and depression. That's what I have to do--deal with these feelings. Having a disability does not give me a free pass to take out these feelings on other people. I am not allowed to rage on other people, even when I am triggered. I make mistakes. I make apologies. I keep myself in check.
In my recovery, I focus on what I do possess. I have a warm and loving heart. I have intelligence and education. I have a sense of humor which steers me through even the most grotesque situations. My work ethic is intense. Most people could not survive even a few of the experiences I have lived through. There have been times when I wish I could give up, just stop and rest. However, my life force is vigorous. My mental disposition consists of resilience, independence, focus, strength, flexibility, sharpness, spirit and compassion. I was raised by parents and in an extended family for whom fortitude of character was essential. They are and were people who had developed a moral compass which consisted of the following:
- You have to care about what happens to other people. Love your neighbor. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- You have to respect other people, all people.
- You have to be respectful.
- You have to be truthful.
- You have to be loyal.
- You have to be honorable. You have to keep your promises and live up to your commitments. You have to pay your debts.
- You have to be able to earn a wage from an honest day's work.
- You have to be fair.
- You have to be courteous. Use your manners. Be kind.
- You have to have a sense of humor and fun. You need to be able to laugh at yourself, and at the rest of the human comedy. You have to enjoy life. Stop and smell the roses.
- You have to get an education, and continue learning throughout your life. Having an education does not make you better than someone who does not. There are no stupid questions, only arrogant people who may try to make you feel stupid so that they feel better about themselves.
- You have to apologize when you make a mistake.
- You have to follow rules. You have to have respect for authority. The only reason not to follow a rule is that rule goes against the rest of your values.
Sometimes, to my detriment, my integrity places me in painful situations. Truth and justice do not prevail all the time. That's no reason to stop pursuing both, but it's not easy. All people do not deserve my time, my energy, or my care. When I realize I have been giving any of those to an unworthy person, then the sting of discovery of teaches me to be shrewder. I have several disabilities, most as the result of the cruelty and negligence of other people. But I also possess the recognition that I am accountable for my actions. I have character.
Poignant post, Maura. You are courageous to face your problems with such grace. I've struggled with PTSD since returning from Vietnam wounded in body, mind, and spirit. I'm doing okay, but it never goes away. I've mostly learned to control my violent outbursts, but things still eat away at me. Thank you for being such a positive example to others.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Michael. I really appreciate your comment and your kind words.ReplyDelete