Disability and Relationships – Acceptance (Stage 5* of Grief)


I was debating between two different topics this morning, but after talking to a newly paralyzed friend last evening, I decided on the subject of acceptance. Not just me accepting my disability, but those around me accepting it also.

My friend is new to the disabled world. She and her husband are still in the midst of a very tumultuous time as they are trying to wrap their heads around all of this. That is so normal! It took me about 2 years to fully come to where I felt that I had finally arrived at a new normal, and I think it took Jimmy longer than that. When you are still so involved with learning how to function in your new body, and therapy is pressing you, there is always a thought in the back of your head that you may just lick this thing yet. And, that is not a bad thing. Time is a great teacher, and as more time rolls by, you have to come to a decision to accept this thing in your life or not. Don’t ever mistake “accept” for “not trying anymore”. I am a firm believer that there is a balance to this and you can live a life of accepting your disability with trying to always look for ways to better your life or condition.

The great Apostle Paul (who we know had a physical problem that God said He would not remove) said that he learned, in whatever condition he was in, to be content. I think the emphasis here needs to be that he learned. Paul did not just suddenly acquire this feeling of contentment that washed over him out of nowhere. He did not even say he liked his condition. But, he did say that he learned to be content with it. This is a learning process that both sides of the fence have to learn. We have to learn to be content with our disability, but those around have to learn that also.

I love a dear lady in my life. I have always admired her greatly. When I became paralyzed, she had a very hard time with it. Every time I saw her, I would be thrilled to see her, but she could hardly talk or look at me without crying. I don’t believe it was pity. She was just genuinely heartbroken for what had happened in my life. I finally wrote her a letter sharing that I had found peace and I needed for her to find it for me. It killed me to think that I (or my disability) was bringing her grief. She took my letter to heart and thanked me for it. She just really needed to know that I was okay, and she would be also. Now, when we are together, we just enjoy ourselves.

Can we learn to come to a place of acceptance? I believe so. This does not always mean that I will feel okay. It means that I am choosing to be okay. There is a difference. How can I learn to accept my life and help others accept my life? Maybe some simple things that we learned in preschool.

Take turns. You will have days where you are just down. Sometimes it is triggered by memories, but other times, there is no good reason. You are just having a rough disability day. This can be for the disabled or the able bodied one that loves you. There were many times that I would have a rough day and Jimmy would be good. Other times, Jimmy was a mess and I was good. Try to stay balanced and take turns. When one is down, the other needs to help lift up. Don’t hog the down time.

Be nice. When I am having a good day, I don’t really want Jimmy to have a bad day. When my day has gone smooth, I don’t want him to botch it up. When everything works good for me, then I don’t want him to come to me with his problems. But life isn’t just about me is it? When I have a bad day, I want him to be compassionate. When my day has been crazy, I want him to be understanding. When I want to share my problems, I want him to listen. I need to do the same for him. Don’t act like a martyr.

Don’t pout. This is crazy to write as an adult, but I find that many times we pout just as much a the kids. We are just more sophisticated about it. Many times, we call it depression. Don’t misunderstand me, I know all about clinical depression and chemical imbalances and I am not talking about that. However, there are many times we are depressed because we just aren’t getting what we want out of life. We have lost control of a situation and really it ticks us off to the point that life loses its appeal. This is the ultimate temper tantrum. We shouldn’t do this. We aren’t in control of the next breath we are given to breath, so let go. This is where I am so thankful that as a child of God, I can relax and let Him lead my life. He has it under control so I can let it go. Don’t act like a child.

Keep trying. Remember that word “learn”? There is a process to learning. We are told information, we process the information, we are quizzed and tested on the information, if we are wrong we restudy the information, and we try again. Life is just like that. When we go through a time of testing, it helps to show us our deficiencies. Maybe this post can help reprocess some information that you forgot. Don’t bog down in where you fail. We all fail! Instead, just review where you blew it, get up and dust your pants off and keep trying!

I get told very often that I am such a strong woman and have got this thing together. I feel really bad if I give that impression. I do not have this thing together! However, I do believe that learning acceptance has been a very important thing in my disability, and in the lives of those who love me and are around me. I love this quote.

“You will never go any farther in life than what you are willing to get over.”

You do not have to accept your disability. You can stay angry and upset about it. You do not have to accept the disability of your loved one. You can stay distant or too busy for them. However, both of those scenarios will never build a healthy relationship. Choose to learn how to accept. Life will be much sweeter for you.

*This post is shared by two different series. 

See The Disability and Relationships Series Topics Here

See the Stages of Grief Series Here

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