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How do I replace negative thoughts such as, “I have nothing interesting to talk about,” and, “I'm worthless due to being unable to work”? I'm permanently disabled. I was always a do-it-all personality type. Most times now I'm in my home, unable to do much. As a child, I received regular hard and painful whippings by both parents, sometimes until welts appeared. I was not told I did well on anything, even when I was an honor roll student. I got used to self-soothing to protect and comfort myself. I don't know how to be vulnerable, and I don't know how to reach out to others to talk about my problems. I had done that in the past with a friend, and she would suddenly have to hang up the phone. That friendship was dear, and I was deeply wounded by her treating me like that. I was the rock in the relationship; I listened to her constant stream of severe depression, and I did not talk about my problems to her until my spinal injury. The few times I tried, she had to go. We don't talk anymore. I feel paralyzed now as to how to reach out to others just to have a real conversation. I'm afraid to honestly speak about anything negative. How can I get over this? - Stuck
Thank you for sharing your personal story in such an open and heartfelt way. Adjusting to a new life with a permanent disability can be tremendously difficult, and it is made infinitely more difficult when you don’t get the kind of support that you are seeking from friends and family.
It sounds like life as you have always known it has changed quite dramatically since your injury. While the grieving process is usually associated with death, it is a natural part of healing from any loss, and you have certainly experienced a very real loss. It may be necessary for you to spend some time grieving the loss of the person you were before your injury. It sounds like prior to your injury you were a very independent person, and life after your injury has brought about some very real limitations to your independence. This would likely result in intense feelings of loss for anyone, but it might be even harder for you. I’m imaging that you became a fiercely independent person who is able to soothe, protect, and comfort yourself as a means of surviving the abuse you suffered as a child. Because these characteristics and skills allowed you to survive your childhood, the limitations to them might feel like a direct threat to your survival. These are some complex issues to sort through and it would likely be beneficial to partner with a therapist to help you with this.
The good news is, you are the same person who survived a physically and verbally abusive childhood. Your therapist can help you adapt some of the very same skills and abilities that enabled you to survive your childhood to help you survive the disability that has resulted from your injury. Through this process, you will likely develop a deep love and appreciation for the remarkable person that you are today. As you begin to have more positive feelings toward yourself, the negative thoughts will likely subside and connecting with others in an authentic way will be as natural as it once was for you.