Sunday, February 26, 2006

An Aside

I was just thinking about how long it took me to begin living independently since I had my injury. Most of the quadriplegics that I've met or have heard about through other channels have done wonderfully with getting on with their lives relatively soon after their injuries. Why did it take me so long?

Admittedly, I lived a pretty sheltered life. As a child and teenager, I pretty much got anything I wanted. If I asked for something, my father would buy it for me and he let me do pretty much whatever I wanted. I didn’t ask for things that often and never asked for anything big. But being my dad's firstborn and a boy, I was his favorite. His father had been stingy and mean. My dad had told me many times over during his lifetime how he had sworn to never be like that. And with the exception of his being a mean boss, he was always loving and caring towards me.

He wasn't a good parent, though. I think he believed that children raised themselves, and that was how I was treated. I was pretty much left to fend for myself. My mom did her best to raise me right but my dad had the final word. I asked her a while back why she allowed me to go to Woodstock at the age of 14, and she had told me that whatever he said, went. I look at 14-year-olds now, and realize how young I must've seemed back in 1969, but at the time I felt as if I was as old as I needed to be. What 14-year-old wouldn't?

What I'm saying is that I had very little or no parental guidance growing up. That I was able to formulate my own ideas about religion, I am thankful for, but I wish that my dad had paid more attention to me during my teenage years. I was left to run wild, which had some dire consequences on me. I imagine that he guessed I would figure it out on my own, which I imagine he had done to a large extent but with much greater success.

My dad was a very independent man. As a teenager, he had left home with his older brother in 1932 or thereabouts to drive a Model T from Texas to California. He never returned home until many years later when his father died, and that was only to attend the funeral. He was very strong-willed, as well. When he had a heart attack in his fifties, he was told to give up cigarettes and drinking, which he faithfully did. Unfortunately, I neither inherited his independence nor his strong-willed temperament.

There are so many influences that shape a man's life that it is impossible to simplify it into one or two causes, but my father was a big influence on my life, which included his lack of influence.

Besides my father's freewheeling ways of raising me, I believe I was born insecure. That would explain my extreme shyness over half my life. As a teenager in junior high school, probably because of my insecurity, I was heavily influenced by peer pressure.

In seventh-grade, it was this peer pressure that led to my using drugs. At first, it was because I wanted to be with a group of other kids that were doing them, but after awhile I found that I liked certain drugs a little too much. I liked to experiment, and by the time I was 15, I was using drugs compulsively.

I got arrested not long after and ended up going into a live-in drug treatment program. I ended up staying there for over two years. I left without officially graduating knowing positively that I would never use drugs again. I was 17 at the time. By the time I was 20, I had started up again.

In the forward, I mention that I moved to Dallas in 1985 to get away from my dad's business. More than that, it was an attempt to stop my drug use. The geographical cure doesn't work in the long run, and it wouldn't have worked for me had I not had my accident when I did. I still had the craving. It was only a matter of time.

What this self-disclosure is leading up to is to perhaps allow the reader to better understand my state of mind, particularly emotionally speaking, at the time of my accident. It's been said that one stops growing emotionally when one starts using drugs, and I consider this to have a lot of truth. When I fell and broke my neck, I was ill prepared emotionally to deal with a personal catastrophe. It took me longer than most, but I finally made it. I'm comfortable in my skin now, perhaps more so than any time in my life including before my injury.


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4 Comments:

At 8:21 PM, Blogger lindiepindie said...

Your story is so honest and moving. What a beautiful way the 2 of you have put this together. I've been reading way longer than I should (it's getting late!), but I'll be back to catch up to the present. Thank you for writing and putting your story out there. God bless-

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger ms*robyn said...

I was only talking about Woodstock the other day with my kids. I wanted to go to an equivalent here when I was about 13 - I think it was in Sunbury, Victoria. Ha! I wasn't allowed to of course and when I think of my daughter wanting to do something similar - I cringe. There is no way I would allow her to do it either - oh lord, I have become my mother !!!
yep, I have, I even have her hands

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am trying to deal with the injury my son sustained. He broke his neck and C5 and C6 and is new at Craig Hospital in Denver. I would be interested in learning more how to cope with all of this as a mother who is having trouble enduring it all.

GulickKCKPS@AOL.com

 
At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's 7/4/12 my son 32 broke his neck
C5 C7. June 14 . He has Three Sister one brother
And my self and Father all work hard and myself and dad work away from home 25 days out of the month
We found out are son was living in a storage building
He has no Insurance now he waiting on Medicare
In DFW . He was transfer from JPS to a nursing home in FTW . We are waiting in Medicare .My question are is there good care for my son there saying he's a Quadpreligics . With technological there got to be some way he good get care to get already he's upper mobility
Movement . Any answer would help a lot
And John stay strong . Are Prayers are with you and your Family

 

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