To round out our guest bloggers for Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month Handicap This Productions brings you motivational speaker and up-and-coming country musician Shane Michael Taylor. Shane discusses the emotional element involved in living with CP.
I silently talk to myself. 60% of what I say is about me too. If that sounds crazy or narcissistic, I have a surprise for you. You do the exact same thing, according to years and years of research.
I am a 32-year-old guy with a severe form of cerebral palsy, which affects all four of my limbs and my voice. It’s no surprise that except for typing on the computer, I require assistance with all facets of daily living. Therefore I’ve been blessed with the ability to live my life closely amongst others, although it can be a curse if we are not in the right mindset or environment.
Needs creates dependency. That dependency can be a breeding ground for abuse. I’m talking mostly verbal abuse and emotional abuse, which in my eyes are far more dangerous than physical abuse. Visible bruises hurt us for a while, but our bodies heal them into scars, which in turn serve as lasting proof that we were indeed physically assaulted.
But how do our bruises from verbal or emotional abuse heal? I believe from how we talk to ourselves. When we receive a hurtful comment, we have a choice. Accept it or reject it. As youngsters, we constantly are seeking the approval of our elders and peers. So we accept their comments as true and tuck them away in the back of our minds. These hurtful comments become stored bruises that don’t heal naturally like physical bruises do.
My mom, a former teacher, chose to give up her promising career to take care of me after I was born with complications. She walked alongside me every step of the way from infancy through my journey into the “real world” as a college graduate. Mom always saw the glass as half full and was a positive force to everyone she met, even when others would offer their condolences and toxic sympathies of having the burden of me in her life.
She would smile and kindly set them straight, stating that she was blessed to have such a healthy and good-hearted child. It may come as a shocker that many of these “sympathy givers” were folks that I looked up to and considered close. Their comments brought me feelings of guilt and sadness, creating invisible bruises I managed to ignore and hide in my mental piggy bank.
Mom suddenly passed away when I was 25. I was overwhelmed as those feelings of guilt and sadness resurfaced. I felt like I robbed my mom of her life from the time I was
born and that I should be the one lying in the ground and not her. Months and years afterward, recurring comments made by “loved ones” reinforced the hidden feelings I held inside and the piggy bank of unhealed bruises finally burst open.
The pain and mental anguish of all of my raw invisible bruises was too much to bear. I attempted to do myself and my loved ones a favor and rid myself from this earth. By the grace of God my attempt failed, forcing me to have a renewed zest for life and vow never to allow the toxic opinions of others become invisible bruises that get trapped inside of me.
I now approach life and what I tell myself differently. I’ve had to revamp my thinking and my system of beliefs. I now have a smaller group of those whom I consider “loved ones” and am comfortable with who I am. Now I’m living my dream. I am a sought after motivational speaker as well as an up-and-coming country artist. The music video for my first single, “Warrior Cowboy,” is expected to debut on national video networks later this year.
Best yet I get to live life and my dream alongside Anthony, one of my best friends from college and my longtime caregiver. Rather than having a dependency on each other, we share a deep, sincere understanding and appreciation for one another and actually enjoy each other’s company. I am so grateful for getting a second chance at life.
To those with or without disabilities who are in dependent relationships and are dealing with abuse of any kind, please stay strong. I know that’s easier said than done. But I don’t care who you are. Every single one of us is here for a reason and has a unique purpose for the good of the world.
So when you are being hurt, I want you to silently talk to yourself and say “No matter what you say or do to me, I’m still a worthwhile person!” Then I urge you to work toward breaking
those dependencies and finding the folks who will become loving positive forces in your life.
The phrase “the spirit cannot be destroyed” is not just the catchy hook in my song “Warrior Cowboy.” It’s the motto of how I now live life. I invite you to do the same.
Let’s keep in touch and join hands to become positive forces in each other’s lives. You can connect with me through ShaneMT.com,
* First image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net