The Cook Awakening

Your Unique Self

March 8, 2020
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I have a few clients that are struggling with needing particular kinds of support in the world. Needing social or disability services that are not easy to get.

Many people have heard me say that the nuclear family is a failed experiment. This normalized expectation for us all to be “independent” is warping our humanity. I view the process folks have to go through to receive services as part and parcel of that. Folks have to “prove” that they’re incapacitated in quite dehumanizing ways to receive basic support. And, usually they have to prove it over and over again.

Given that many folks needing assistance are also living with a history of trauma that may actually be causing the need for assistance, we really have a system that is severely off the mark. A system that compounds the injury it professes to try to salve.

A couple of examples – if someone is suffering from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), making them responsible for filling out complicated forms to receive assistance is cruel. To offer them assistance filling those forms out with a worker who is not trained to understand the needs of someone who is not neuro-typical, who is impatient or shaming, compounds the cruelty.

I have a memory, early on in my Lyme diagnosis and treatment, of a certain receptionist in my doctor’s practice. I had some fairly significant neurological symptoms — short term memory loss, brain fog, slowed down thinking processes. This person was sharp toned, impatient when I had a hard time remembering the names of supplements I needed to order, or putting together disparate pieces of information about my treatment plan. I remember feeling ashamed, and nervous about having to talk with them.

It wasn’t until a couple of years into my treatment that it occurred to me that this was not a good job for this person to have! My doc’s practice was primarily Lyme patients. We needed to receive support from someone with an extraordinary level of patience and organization to help with our inability to move quickly and remember details.

That’s a long story to illustrate what I think is often the truth when we come up against a painful situation when we need help — “It’s not you, it’s them”.

Inhumane systems are dehumanizing. Not that the folks perpetrating the dehumanization are really “to blame” themselves, they were trained in the same systems and probably don’t know how to do different. They believe the conditioning that says that your value is less if you’re not within some narrow range of functionality (or other criteria) in our culture’s view.

Spiritual practice, or perhaps a better name for it should be “Life practice” needs to be an individual, fluid process that assists us in staying present within ourselves in whatever circumstances we encounter.

I’m not very fond of practices that are cookie cutter style. We are individuals, with unique backgrounds, unique wounding, unique psyches. And, we have much in common, we are shaped by this very inhumane culture, and that creates suffering.

My purpose in life is to be present for and address that suffering, where I can. That’s the core of my work, whether in one-on-one sessions, or my more public offerings. Part of that process is to help you reclaim your integrity, your worthiness, in the face of the messages of the world that says you are a problem, you are inconvenient, that your hardships are due to a lack of effort.

And, sometimes to take that new found sense of integrity and use it to stay calm and persevere in the work required to get the assistance you need. To do the best you can do when “helpers” are not helpful. Often, when we learn to calm our nervous systems, we can think of ways through that are less encumbered by the systemic structures that are really not working for us. Sometimes that’s establishing if it’s safe to complain or ask for a different person to assist us. To, at the very least, know that it’s not your fault that you can’t manage the details.

It’s not your fault. You are valuable. The world needs you, your unique gift. Even if you can’t get out of bed. Even if you can’t “think straight”, if you are so anxious you can’t leave your house or get frozen and can’t speak. What you can do is enough. Just do that. Love where you can and who you do.

And, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you hear “no” many times. Keep asking until you find the “yes” you need.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at 1:32 pm and is filed under Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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