Becoming disabled is the experience that has probably contributed the most to my character today. Before my disability, I was always on the move. One goal and its accomplishment led straight into the next goal and its accomplishment, until I became a goal seeking “bundle of nerves.” My goal seeking was so intense that I am not sure whether I was able to enjoy the moment each day. Also, before my disability, I had a less than positive attitude about myself. I was rarely enough, unless my accomplishments were ongoing and current. I enjoyed accolades from others for all the things I got done that I said I would do. However, it was never over. The striving never ended. It was if I had to continue each accomplishment to stay above water, in the cesspool of my low self-esteem.
Now that I have become disabled, although I still have that draining drive for perfection, the pain in my body will not allow me those accomplishments anymore. I have been forced to greatly reduce the size and the time limits of my goals. Sometimes my goal for the day is just to get up, take a shower and get fully dressed. I do not always accomplish that goal. I beat myself up for about five years, relentlessly judging myself based on the goals that I had set but had not reached. I saw my disability as a punishment from God or either a punishment from myself for running so hard and so fast for the first forty years of my life. It was only through psychotherapy, the encouragement of friends and family, a twelve-step program, and the goodwill of others that I am coming to believe that my disability is not a punishment. Coming to this belief is a work in progress. It does not happen overnight. Sometimes I get frustrated with the slow process. But practicing the 12 steps on a daily basis helps keep my ego in check and keep me right-sized, reducing the need to berate myself when I cannot do the things that I see others doing in their lives.
Receiving county services such as light housekeeping and Meals on Wheels has been a very humbling experience, and has contributed greatly to my character development. Prior to my disability and several years into my disability, I would not accept help from other people. I would figure out a way to do it myself. Sometimes I see my disability as a blessing! Although I am not good at it, I may become a good role model for my children regarding humility, now that I am accepting help. I have even learned to ask them for help. Before, they would offer and I would refuse. This was very frustrating for them. I will continue to work on my humility, and the leveling of my pride in order to help others and to do the best to help myself. I want to remain teachable.