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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Don't get stuck in the "Why Me" Syndrome

I've heard 'Why Me?' so often after something bad happens to someone that I am almost deaf to it by now.
As a child, I gave in to Why Me a couple of times when I watched other boys in the neighborhood run off and leave me sitting on the green wooden steps of our flat or hopped out of a hospital bed to take a step and discovered the doctor's surgeries on my hips had destroyed my ability to lift me legs.
You can say why not me? Or, 'thank God that wasn't me ...' and fill in the blank. That's not nice, though.
You also can try to help someone caught in the self-pitying quicksand of Why Me.
The Why Me Syndrome gives the false, perhaps unconscious, notion that we, as humans, can control everything that occurs in our lives. Don't we wish.
Or we can control others, or their behavior, or the random events in nature like getting struck by lightning, a 1-in-3-million occurrence.
Instead, let's respond by saying: 'OK, that happened and what can I or we do about it' to adjust?
Being flexible and able to cope is a gift I've noticed successful able-bodied or disabled people just have as part of their being.
I fell going across the stage once at Osborn High School in an auditorium gathering and got up and said: "I'm in good company. President Franklin Roosevelt fell more than once and got up and kept on going."
One might not like the conservatism of Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder but there is absolutely no doubt his mantra, Relentless Positive Action, is a darn good idea. That makes him a winner.
One learns when born with a disability as I was in the age before the pre-enlightenment that the best attitude in life is there is no such thing as "I can't" and there's nothing inside of me that will let me quit. That is a tough deal but it gets one past the barriers.
I admit, now that I am old, I have been cruel to others when it comes to their attitude.
As a 15-year-old with testosterone raging who just had major operations on both hips, I yelled at a girl who had a broken leg who refused to get out of her wheelchair and walk up a few wooden steps in physical therapy.
"Hell," I said, "What are you moaning about? In a few weeks you will be walking normally."
My words did silence her for a while but her mother did her a disservice by telling her that she didn't have to do it now if she didn't feel like doing it.
My parents wouldn't stand for that guff, nor would my sisters, nor would my friends who really knew that I never believed I had a disability that disabled me from doing.
Like the scene in "Field of Dreams," dad and I played catch on the cracked cement driveway of our home. I had the bad habit of always reaching out with my right hand to catch a pitch instead of crossing over with my left gloved hand to catch the ball properly.
Dad would throw to the right harder and harder and I'd still do it wrong, so much so that I built up blisters on my palm.
Eventually, I learned to catch the pitch properly and that led to me playing baseball with the kids in the neighborhood with my sister, Rene, and I inventing reasonable accommodation. Rene, as an accommodation, would run the bases for me when I batted.
Saying "Why Me?" also significantly diminishes self.
It's not what happens, it is how a person, corporation or nation reacts to an event.
This nation has to quit worrying about jobs being created overseas and put our heads together and create new industries of perhaps serving one another. The Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, where I now work as a rights advocate at large/writer in residence, has created thousands of jobs for folks during the past 30 years by getting the 13,000 disabled people out of state institutions and into group homes and having providers hire people to help those with disabilities who need it.
The 76 million baby boomers are going to need such a system, so let's get going on that.
So don't worry about fate or destiny having it in for you because you are in a Why Me situation.
Face the reality of the situation, change it to your advantage as best as you can and power forward.
It's like the time, at age 63, I finished the Detroit Freep Marathon on a handcycle in 4:06. I was pissed. I missed beating the four-hour mark. But I noticed my friends and family celebrated that I finished the 26.2-mile race and the time was of little consequence. Then, I realized (thanks Jeff Kuehn) I had accomplished something noteworthy.
So trash Why Me and believe in self, others and God and you'll never have to sit on the sidelines of life and watch the young boys run off to have fun.

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