Are you Spiritually disabled?

I worked may years as advocate for children and adolescents with autism. During these years I formed relationships with the parents of these children to the degree that they shared their innermost feelings with me.

One parent put it best when she said it was like grieving the death of the child each morning when she woke up. For parents of children with a disability such as autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and psychiatric problems the world is one of insulation, desperation and a silent despair the public at large can never know.

Many of us who feel as if life holds nothing (as I did for many years) need to look at what we may be grieving. This could be the loss of identity through abusive home lives which led to abusive relationships as we tried to work out solutions to problems we never could as children. It could be illness and disability that causes us to grieve the people we USED to be, which interferes with the people we are to become. As a writer with a disability that impairs my ability to hold a pencil and even type, I personally underwent a long period of maladjustment before I understood my rage was stealing my sense of self and would eventually destroy my life's purpose, whatever that was to be. My athleticism was stolen from me as well. So I understand loss first hand. I also understand illness as I have suffered numerous illnesses in my life as well.

Financial hardship and physical pain also eat away at the fabric of self, as I also personally know. When a person faces even one of these circumstances in his or her life, there is a grief that, if left unidentified, will continue to destroy the ego, sense of self, self esteem and ultimately all hope for contentment.

In the not too recent (and archaic past) mothers of autistic children were blamed for the disability,and hence were called "refrigerator mothers". In other words, it was presumed the lack of proper nurturing by the mother was the cause of autism! In this manner, mothers of autistic children were singled out in ways that mothers of other children with different disabilities were not.

Yet, how often do we single ourselves out for not achieving, or for not having gotten a higher education or because we are overweight, underweight or suffer from inferiority complexes? Are we not stigmatizing ourselves as society ostracized mothers of autistic children? Just as they were considered guilty of not nurturing their children, are we not, in fact, guilty of not nururing ourselves? Whereas these mothers were not responsible for making their children disabled with autistism, from a spiritual point of few we ARE RESPSONSIBLE for our spiritual stagnation, especially if we allow it to perpetuate.

Spiritual stagnation or commiting the "sin" of devaluing our worth is as life crippling as any disability. The difference is, we can make our spirits and souls healthy! We can change who we believe we are just by saying so and sticking to our self declaration. "Pffft!", many of you might say and presume I am an idealist but, I am not. I am a realist! "But you don't know how overwhelmed I feel!", you may declare. But I do. Years ago in my younger days I became close friends with grief, illness and despair. Things felt so hopeless and painful I actually attempted suicide three times. I acted upon these ideations and guess what? It didn't work! I felt as if the cruelest cosmic joke had been played on me at the time but what I was offered was the opportunity to decide did I want to perpetuate the despair that threatened my life or did I want to choose to be a warrior? I chose to be a warrior and my personal life battles were not easy. In addition to everything I mentioned above I have faced eviction numerous times, I have gone hungry, I almost died from illnesses and each time I stood my ground and said "I am making it!". and, you know what, I did!

There are twenty million people in this country that suffer from mental illness of some sort ( U.S. Department of Health statistic). Most of these victims are untreated due to lack of insurance but of these are a lot of people who are in denial, feel stigmatized and if, they are on medication, choose to stop taking it because they think they are better. Now, I am sure you are thinking, this does not make sense yet, how many times do we not do what is right for ourselves for the same reasons. We deny any responsibility in perpetuating our problems. We may be among those who are clinically depressed and instead of caring for ourselves, we allow the mental pain to continue by not seeking treatment. We acknowledge heart conditions, epilepsy and diabetes and even mental illness as health challenges meritous of treatment but when it comes to the illness of the spirit, we often choose to flounder because we do not understand the strength and confidence that comes along with spiritiual health.

Now, it does not matter to me whether or not one's spiritual strength comes from a synagogue, mosque, church or the Polar Bear club. Whatever it is that enables someone to feel the existence of creation itself and the Maker of all things will also flush the spirit clean of toxic memories, the hurt of an emotionally distanced family or husband or wife provided we simply ask.

Alcoholics Annonymous has a saying, "One day at a time". There have been many times when, for me, it was one second at a time. Becoming spirituallly healthy is a lot of work. Like any other self help program it requires a self inventory, the willingness to accept responsibility, to see your faults, make amends and the most important factor-being proud that you are still standing!

Whatever it takes to heal that hole in our hearts, whether it be via medication to heal an imbalance in brain chemistry, lowering your blood pressure, taking antidepressants (under supervision of course)in conjunction with finding our Creator who is supporting us, we are healing our souls.

In the field of mental retardation, we used to educate according to what we called the "equivalent age". In other words, a child might have been twelve but with the learning and social skills of a five year old. We would begin work at the equivalent age and work upwards from there. I consider this to be much like the 'inner child' that so much is written about. This "inner child" concept is very relevent to healing our souls. When I embarked on my spiritual path many years ago, I realized the emotional anguish, rage and grief I felt had roots in my childhood. The only problem was I was not a child and these childhood, no- childish responses- had no place in the adult world in which I lived. I had adult problems. It was then I chose to grow up! I had to learn how to be an adult first. Once I chose this path, the world of spirituality began to open up to me.

Having lived in the world of pain and now, the world of spirit, I can truly say I have seen what makes misery and what makes contentment. You have a choice. Now, what will you choose?

Author's Bio: 

Cate is a columnist, published ppoet and author. She also teaches Poetry and Creative Writing. Cate has been a social worker, advocate and facilitator for developmentally and physically disabled people. The power of personal spirit was evident in all of those she worked with and motivated her to continue to explore spirit power for herself and others. Her book, "Gifts Of the Spirit" is making headway and two other books, "Her Godmother" and "Grief Dance" are forthcoming as is a paranormal romance later this year.