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How Can I Come to Terms With my Acquired Disability and Move On?

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10 years ago, I was young, healthy, fully employed, in a relationship with the perfect man for me, and happier than I had ever been. I was also 10 years younger - at the age of 38 I had the physical and intellectual wellness of someone 28 years old.

I then suffered a stroke that has left me physically disabled - slow moving and lacking in strength and dexterity, so that I can do nothing competently, or quickly. Consequently I have been unemployed for all this time, and no social group wants to have anything to do with me. I also have chronic fatigue and short term memory loss, which makes me unable to keep any job that I have been lucky enough to get since the stroke.

Although I still live in the same house as the man who I was with at the time, our relationship is now that of landlord and tenant (me). There is absolutely no love in the relationship. He does everything that he can, short of verbally asking me to leave, to get me out of his house and life.

As someone disabled, I have absolutely no hope of attracting any other man, or of finding any real friends, except other people who are disabled, or other social rejects, and I do not want to be in such a social group.

I am afraid to leave this man, to live in my own home, regardless that I would be financially better off, because I have no friends, no job, and my mother died last year. My beloved dog died the year before (due to severe injuries that I caused the dog). I would not be able to cope psychologically or emotionally because I would be too lonely.

I do not know where I am going in life. My ex does not want to spend the rest of his life with me, and would welcome my leaving him. I am aware that I am ruining his life, and he is 10 years older than me, so has less life left than me to start again. What is my question, I do not know. I just do not know where to go, or what to do anymore. I just know that I am not happy.

Wallace's reply
Wallace As someone who also has a disabling condition I empathize with your situation - acquiring a significant disability is challenging for anyone. Suddenly all the norms you live by are thrown into question. The friends you had may no longer want to know you. The career you valued may be out of reach–indeed any paid job may be impossible. The relationship you have comes under immense pressure as you both struggle to adapt to the changing circumstances and may break-up. The home you live in may no longer meet your needs, or be financially out of reach. Isolation, poverty, and loneliness beckon. Suddenly the world, where once you felt a master of your circumstances, can feel a very frightening and insecure place. The feelings you express I have gone through myself. However there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

The reason disabled people find acquiring their condition so challenging is that, like most people, they look to find happiness in having favorable outer circumstances. Quite naturally they seek to make their life right on the outside, by having the right relationship, career etc. They think that by having certain things or a loving relationship that they will feel happy and contented inside. This does not work–and people who acquire a disability are among the first to discover this Truth.

To be happy, contented and fulfilled we have to find it within ourselves. When we find happiness, contentment and fulfillment within, our outer circumstances can change, even dramatically, and we will remain unaffected. This is detachment and is a high spiritual state, treasured for millennia. You now have before you the possibility of attaining this state if you are willing to learn lessons from your acquired disability.

What can you learn from this supposed tragedy?

I find it interesting that you use the term “social rejects” to describe those people who now may wish to be in your company. Is this not a rather judgmental way of seeing people who are fellow human beings? I have a friend who recently left her job in a prestigious multi-national company to work with these “rejects”. I asked her why she had chosen to make this move. She replied that she loved to work with people with disabilities and other conditions because she found them so inspirational and enjoyed their company far more that the company of the executives with whom she used to work!

I want you to become one of these inspirational people. Perhaps you could start by setting up home away from your current landlord. By clinging to the past you are only holding both of you back. Now is the time to branch out with courage and create a new path. If you asked your landlord and friend to help–he may support you in making this move.

Also consider joining some groups in your locality that are for the disabled. Please see people with disabilities and other conditions as heroes in living, which you will soon discover to be true. Your use of the term “social rejects” suggests to me that you have not yet fully accepted your disability. So as well as reaching out to others I suggest you do some work around grieving for your lost life. Grieving and letting go of what you have lost is an essential first step to moving on and seeing value in your new life. Some of the new friends you make will be more than willing to help you with this.

To help you with your journey I also recommend my book Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off. The book traces my own journey as I sought to recover from the disabling effects of schizophrenia and depression and charts my rebirth into the happy, joyful and contented person I am today. It has lots of tips, insights and methods to help you make the same transition. I wish you all the best in your new life and you will be with me in my thoughts and prayers.

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