I can remember the day my mom started the process, of applying for SSI for me over the phone. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that a monthly amount of money would be given to me, simply because of having cerebral palsy. “Cool!” I thought, the interesting thing is, however, is when I realized that I’d need to appear in front of a doctor to prove that cerebral palsy was not a made up reality in my life. So, my parents took me to see a local doctor, and it was as though the doctor took one look at me and said “yep, he has cerebral palsy”.
Don’t get me wrong, I was well aware that people take advantage of the system. It only seemed odd to me because I knew that in my heart the truth was being told. Before I knew it my first monthly check was in the mail and shortly after that, then came my very own bank account.
This was a really cool reality to me, because that meant that I could buy my own clothes, food etc. It was cool to have my own money and start learning how to be responsible with money. Yet, now being an adult who gets SSI. There is all too often a battle with shame over the reality. On one hand, I see that that money given each month is a blessing from God, that I and others should be wise with.
On the other hand, I have been met with a great deal of heat and push back, both from others like myself and even abled-bodied individuals. Both sides say with great passion “don’t you want more for your life!” The obvious answer is, yes of course, any person in a healthy frame of mind would want more for their lives. Sometimes society can be an extremely judgmental place, and to add to that, some simply cannot understand that some of lives simply haven’t turned out as planned.
Due to my startle reflex, it’s not safe for me to drive and so working your typical job is a challenge. And where I live, transportation services are pretty much nonexistent. As I result, I still try and make the most of the life that God has given me. Most of my time is spent as being an online personal trainer and nutrition coach online. Working with others like myself, beyond that I write books and blogs.
And you know what? I still don’t make enough money to get off SSI… But I know that deep down I’m doing the best that I possibly can. And I’m not giving up hope either. When the shame shows up, it can quickly turn into a heavy depression. Then defeating statements are whispered into my mind:
“No real woman would want you like this.”
“You’ll never measure up.”
“your life will never change.”
These are just some of the lies that hit me at times, and one of the main ways that I combat the shame. Is by remembering where my worth and value come from. And for that all stems in my faith in God. He says who I am. My worth in him and to him, is not based upon how much money is in my bank account. Or even how much that I accomplish in my life. If people cannot see your value as a human being, that has a lot more to do with them than it does you. It may be hard to believe in the moment, but it is true none-the-less. As I also mentioned above, do not give up hope, keep striving! Set goals, and as Jordan Peterson says “take aim at something”. Start small and work your way up to bigger things.
You may not be where you’d like to be in life, and that’s ok. You just keep pressing on toward the goal. Whatever that is for you. Will the battle with shame completely go away? Probably not, in fact there will be days when we feel completely defeated. But as long as there’s still breath in our lungs. There’s still room to fight.