Living in Fear vs. Living in Faith and Love

January 15, 2009woman-holding-heart

Living in Fear vs. Living in Faith and Love

During my “down times” when I’ve overextended myself and am forced to rest to recover from the resulting migraines and fatigue, I spend time reflecting on this TBI journey. I think back to last year at this time. The lawsuit was over. Although the jury awarded me a settlement, it was so inadequate that there was nothing left for me after my lawyer’s percentage and his trial costs were deducted. The medical bills I owed were in excess of $130,000. My disability check was not enough to cover my monthly expenses.

I was overcome by my fears. When I first received the news, I checked myself into a psych ward because I knew what I would have done if I were left alone to deal with this. That only served to make sure I wasn’t alone and gave me a break from my life for a short period of time. Other than that, it was not a very helpful experience. The psychiatrist who was assigned to my case would come in every day for a week, shake his head solemnly and say, “You’re in a difficult situation. You’re disabled through no fault of your own, you owe a lot of money….I have no idea what you’re going to do,” and then would walk out. I could not attend their “group therapy” sessions since the stimulation from the noise and people was too overwhelming, and they did not bother to provide any accommodations for my disability.

Looking back, I acted as if all the worst case scenarios I could think of were reality and would likely happen in the next month or so. I would have to file bankruptcy. I would lose my home. I would have to move into some depressing apartment and lose my fur/feather family members. My car would be taken away and I would lose more of what little independence I had. I would lose the closeness of my neighbors, the familiarity of my home and community. I would be isolated even more and forgotten. Considering the losses I was already grieving with regards to my brain injury, I did not believe there was anything to look forward to.

Every time I received a call from a collection agency or some other stressor came along, I felt more hopeless. I slowly began to realize that I was still in my home, and none of my dreaded fears had become reality. I was spending so much time worrying about what my life would become, that I was not enjoying the time that I had.

Even though I knew that worrying was useless, wasted energy, I couldn’t stop worrying until I changed my attitude towards my situation. I began thinking about the Law of Attraction – the belief that people attract the very things they think about. And the lesson of the white buffalo in Native American teachings – as long as one remembers to give proper thanks, his needs will be provided. I thought about other difficult times in my life and how things always seemed to work out for the best. Why would this time be any different? Had I finally run out of luck? Or were things progressing as they should? Could what looked like a bad situation actually be some kind of blessing in disguise?

I began to appreciate and love my home, pets and neighbors even more. I would pretend that I had just moved there and revel in what a wonderful neighborhood I lived in where I could easily walk my dogs while riding around in my power chair. I marveled at how nice and friendly the people were in my neighborhood and told them so. Any positive thing about my life that I had taken for granted or worried about losing, I began to treat it as if I had never had it and feel the joy one would experience as if it happened for the first time.

laptop-woman-typingInstead of waiting to see if the thing I was worried about was going to happen, I put more energy into writing for my website. In my post-TBI injury years, I spent a lot of time developing accommodations to help me function better. Knowing how difficult my own experience has been, I decided to share these things with others so that their journey would be a little less difficult, a little less lonely. Many people have contacted me, telling me how much the information has helped. I’m not sure they realize what a gift they gave me – the gift of telling me that I still have something important to contribute, something that matters.

Two days after I began writing this blog, I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She was interviewing Dr. Wayne Dyer who recently produced a movie called Ambition to Meaning, which viewers could download and watch for free that day. I took advantage of the offer and was glad I did.

Watching the movie was one of those “synchronistic moments” that gives me chills and makes me pay attention. Why? Because Dyer touched upon the exact themes I was reflecting upon and writing about: living in love vs. fear, and that our needs are taken care of when we live our lives through meaning and purpose.

In part of this movie, Dyer talks about when we were conceived, we came from the Divine and for 9 months in the womb, our every need was taken care of. He poses: Why should this be different during other phases of our life? This doesn’t mean that we sit back and do nothing. Opportunities open to us as we find ways to live our lives through meaning and purpose. (See Ambition to Meaning: Finding Your Life’s Purpose)

One of Oprah’s guests this week, Elizabeth Lesser, expanded on this theme. She explained that difficulties and challenges are part of human life; the spiritual part of our experience affirms that we will be okay, no matter what human difficulties we experience. She goes on to say that when we open to our brokenness, we are able to blossom into our lives. The important thing to remember is not to fight life, but rather relax into it. (See her book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow).

The difficulty I experience is the part about having faith that everything will work out okay. During these times, I’m reminded of an amazing experience I had with a swan feather which has been an important lesson for me in all areas of my life. (See The Feather) Many times we pray for help or something we desire. Often, we get what we asked for, but it doesn’t come “packaged” the way in which we wanted it. Or we go through what seems to be very negative experiences, thinking that our prayers have not been answered. However, it may be these very experiences which lead us to the precise thing for which we asked.

A couple of years before the program I worked for was eliminated and before I suffered my brain injury from a car accident, I had been praying for work where I could touch more people’s lives than I was currently affecting. I worked in a program which served approximately 75 families with young children per school year. I was anfeather-white excellent parent educator and I was also good at developing workshops and presenting at conferences to other professionals.

My vision was that I would find a job which would allow me to do more of the latter. My vision did NOT include a brain injury, disability and bankruptcy. Yet, I think about how many lives I may be touching through this website. Now I wonder, am I actually receiving that for which I prayed?

© Angela Cramer, 2008-2009

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3 Responses to “Living in Fear vs. Living in Faith and Love”

  1. February 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Hello Angela,
    WBIA’s Dorothy introduced you to me via an email. She thought we might have some things in common. She was right.
    I replied that I would add you to my morning rounds.

    I especially like your lists! I plan to explore and offer you any that I don’t see on your list. You might want to have a sperate list for that which you haven’t verified.

    Please let me use your sunny smile as wallpaper for a while. i have added that smile page to my favorites,folder SMILE. I think the rest can go in my ff Favowrites.

    I’ve a motto which I developed as caretaker for my BI survivor husband, and believe now with heart and head. Ignorance = fear = violence. i=f=v Work backwards from any violence until you “can see” how a little ignorance causes the fear that starts the fight/flight chemicals.

    i preach it all I can because we have so many survivors now who have much more knowledge about suicide bombs than some of us. I want to prevent the BI “depression” that might trigger more suicides.

    Before my own depression – I feared I might kill self/others accidentally. I looked fine. I felt good. I could function if careful. This is 1989 when BI did not reach many radar screens.

    Then of course they fed me drugs that cause suicidal thoughts.
    If I wrote a book -How will I kill myself? Accidentally? On purpose? By Cop? By Doc? By Suicide Bomb?

    You can find me at
    Gwenith’ Very Own Jean Auel Discussion Board

    Enough for now.
    Hugs, :)gwenith

  2. February 7, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I meant to say , also, that I wonder if we Humans are being given this opportunity to trust “what will be, will be”, The serenity (senility) prayer, “I will to will thy will.” And just Be!

  3. February 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Gwenith,

    It was so good to hear from you! I did check out your discussion board and had planned on writing a reply, but then got distracted by something. And the thought fell out of my head until I saw your name somewhere while I was adding to my site today.

    Yes, it does look like we have some things in common. I’m listening to Shelters of Stone right now. Auel’s series was a favorite of mine before the brain injury. Now it’s a favorite to listen to because I have discovered it is easier for me to follow audiobooks which I either read in book form or saw as a movie.

    It’s been extremely hard to listen as I try to relax. With all that’s going on in my life right now, my mind wanders all over the place.


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