Finding love and lasting relationships post spinal cord injury can be a daunting task – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Wayne is a counselor at Shepherd Center, and he’s worked extensively with people who live with spinal cord injuries - people who have incorporated love into their lives following their injuries. Here’s some insight Wayne has compiled when it comes to Love, Relationships, and SCI.
Keep the Focus on Love Not Disability
Keeping love at the forefront of a relationship helps “keep the focus on building the relationship and away from making all of life about the disability.”
Communication is a two-way street, and a solid foundation for a relationship requires both a willingness to listen, and the ability to communicate honestly.
“Listen… really listen. Make understanding the other person more important than trying to change them. Express yourself, too. Invite the other person into your experience of the SCI, so they can understand your perspective.”
Embrace the Present
Everyone who has experienced a life-changing injury occasionally falls into the “what could have been” trap. But try to keep the focus on the here and now. Learn about your body and how you can engage in a relationship now. Be open to trying new things. “Let it be what it is, rather than constantly comparing it to the way it used to be. Make the goal about giving and receiving love right now.”
Getting back out there, especially in the relationship sense, after an injury can be scary. But it’s a leap worth taking. “Be kind to yourself in this process of becoming the kind of person you hope to be. And, as the confidence builds, any relationship will be more about the people involved and less about how they get across the room.”
“Begin to take pride in who you are. Yes, an SCI can shake the foundations of your self-image, but the job of rebuilding is yours, and you have choice in the way you rebuild.”
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