As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is (supposedly) in the air, but what does that mean to a brain injury survivor? Personally, I’m not a Cupid fan favourite. Are my feelings brain injury related? I don’t know.
The thought of recognizing a shared love with close family and friends basicallysits well with me. But the celebration of romance? That just gives me a headache. I don’t have anything against the concept of a relationship between two people – whether it’s in a marriage or a ‘going steady’ deal – but the idea of personally entering into a romantic relationship with someone causes an intermittent cranial pain.
I find just the idea of cramming liaisons between two partners into one day overwhelming. I understand that romance is a blossoming thing that is not just about one calendar day, but still…
I’ve experienced a few relationships throughout my life which have resulted in happiness and heartache as tag-alongs. Some of these I’ve written about in my book, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path.
Nothing I’ve gone through has grown into a long, lasting, relationship. These experiences have, however, lead to feelings of discomfort. I’ve been faced with not knowing what to do or say, and seeing as how I’ve grown up not knowing what to do or say, the feeling scares me. I’ve had, and still have at times, difficulties understanding myself, so trying to understand the opposite sex can result in a spinning effect.
It has taken me some confusion, and heartache, to understand and feel comfortable with who I am. I don’t know if I am ready for anything else.
This ABI has presented so many difficulties, but I think, for me, has also offered so much clarity. I’ve learned to work hard and take things in stride, so perhaps my Valentine is still yet to come.
Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing – for others as well as himself. His experience as a survivor, caregiver, mentor and writer has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com.
After you’ve gone through a life changing event such as a brain injury, the person looking back at you in the mirror can be a stranger. The reflection may still look like you, but the mannerisms, the thinking and the constant feeling of ‘there’s something missing’ can be overwhelming. This disconnect can affect not only the relationship you have with yourself – how you take care of yourself, set boundaries and your self-confidence – but also the relationships you have with others.
To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”- Robert Morely
As weeks turned to months and months turned to years, the pain and torment at the loss of me pre-accident did not lessen. At times, it seemed even more painful than the physical pain I dealt with every day. Everyone tried to assure me things would get better, but each time I looked in the mirror I saw a stranger in the reflection that looked back at me.”
I’m not going to sugar coat things. Friends, learning to love yourself can be difficult, especially after a traumatic, life changing experience. Self-love is about total acceptance. It’s about deeply caring for yourself and your happiness. It’s about loving yourself at this very moment and every moment, unconditionally. With small steps you will move forward and start loving that fabulous person looking back at you in the mirror!
Here are 3 small steps to get you started:
Change Your Thoughts – Our thoughts are important, they create our reality. Start focusing on things that you can do, things that you want to happen in your life. The more positive energy you put out there the more positive things will start to materialize. When the doctors told me I would never wear high heels again, I kept telling myself I will wear heels. I visualized myself wearing heels and now, over time, I am wearing heels. Maybe not for the length of time I once used to, but I am wearing heels!!!
Start a regular practice– meditation, yoga and gratitude journaling are three tools that I use. Not only do they provide “me time”, but these practices allow you to connect more deeply with yourself. The more you are able to connect with yourself the more self-healing continues to happen.
Treat yourself– take yourself out for a nice dinner, a day/afternoon at the spa, an afternoon cup of tea or do something that you really enjoy. The important thing is making time in your day to do something special for yourself and to focus on not feeling remotely guilty about putting your iPhone on silent and spending time on YOU.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, whether you have a sweetheart to share it with or are spending it solo, do something for yourself that encourages you to get to know yourself better, to take care of yourself and to fall in love with yourself again. After all, your happiness starts with the best LOVE AFFAIR you will have, the one with yourself. Make a self-love jar
A self-love jar is a great project you can make for yourself to remind you of how wonderful you are, especially on days when you’re feeling down. Fill it with positive self-love affirmations, positive things that people have said about you, things that you like about yourself or self-love quotes you have come across. What is important is that the words are positive, motivational and inspirational.
You will need
5 recipe card size pieces of coloured paper
paper cutter (or scissors)
jar with lid
ribbon or decorative Elastic Bands
pen or marker
How to make it
using paper cutter (or scissors) slice each recipe card into 5 strips (about ½” in thick)
write a positive message (quote, affirmation, something about you)
fold pieces of paper (you will have 25 pieces) with writing on the inside and place in jar
place either ribbon or decorative elastic band around jar and replace lid
How to use it
When you are feeling down pull out a piece of paper and read the message. It will remind you of something that is positive and/or amazing about you!!! Place message back in jar for another time.
Celia Missios is a brain injury survivor who has embraced her new found strengths and created a life that fits who she is today. She shares her journey in hopes that it will help others who are experiencing depression, anxiety, stress and facing transition in their life successfully move away from fear, pain, and deflated attitude about life – step into the life they want. Celia is the founder of the blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Adventures in Manifesting – Soulful Relationships; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau. To learn more about Celia and be inspired visit www.HighHeeledLife.com or www.CeliaMLifeCoach.com