Monday, March 5, 2018

The Special Needs Journey: Moving Forward When Others Leave You Behind

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Special needs parents often report that they have strong feelings of being left behind. Relationships that once existed prior to their child with special needs dissolve, friends and family have children meeting milestones, where theirs does not – they feel stuck watching life go by for others while life for them stands still. How do you learn to cope with being left behind?

Have A Talk With Yourself:
There is a tendency to feel a sense of not belonging when others leave you behind. You long to be included and thought of – a phone call - an invite for coffee – a play date for your child. The absolutely worst thing you can do is feel sorry for yourself. You need to have that talk with yourself that says could I really participate even if I was included? Could my overwhelmed sensory sensitive child even handle a play date? Would I even be able to get a wheelchair up the fifteen stairs to my neighbor’s front door? If there are more no’s to all the questions you are asking yourself – then you are missing nothing except an extra hassle. Consider that the universe kind of did you a hidden favor because even if you were included could you really participate?

Proper Assignment of Forgiveness:
Sometimes it is necessary to absolve people from not fully understanding how them moving forward without us hurts. Although it doesn’t excuse everyone, sometimes people simply don’t know how to properly incorporate you into their lives or activities and in their apprehension make the decision to put forth no effort at all. Leaving you behind is easier for them, but harder for you. When we recognize this we have two options: one being we attempt to initiate contact and put forth all the effort, or two: let things be and realize that our special needs life simply makes them too uncomfortable to be a supportive relationship in our life and let them go.

Realizing You Deserve Better:
It can be a very emotionally painful experiences when those closest to you – who you always thought would be there in both good times and in bad disappear – when you needed them the most. Here you are are; sleep deprived, your heart torn into a million pieces, a child that you can’t seem to soothe, doctor’s appointments, specialists, therapists, and then adaptive equipment, your financial stability takes a dive that you realize you will never recover from. You realize that you’re no longer part of the living the perfect fairy tale life club. But rather than put the blame back on yourself for why others can’t rise to the occasion and be a good friend or family member – be kind to yourself and remember you deserve better. You deserve to surround yourself with the best and strongest support system you can find. And if there are people who can’t cut it, then don’t chase after them. It’s a blessing in disguise that they made the decision to leave you behind.

Don’t Give It Much Thought:
Realistically our days are so busy with the everyday extensive needs and care of our child with special needs that we really don’t have the extra time to dwell on the dissolution of relationships. Focus all your positive energy where it matters – your child. Sometimes that means that you have to bury the pain and hurt of others leaving you behind just for a bit. But you have one of the most important jobs ever – and that is the care of your child who is fully dependent upon you. Think to yourself, all those who left you behind are missing out on knowing such an amazing child and family. Their loss, not yours.

Fill That Lonely Spot
We all crave companionship, friendship, and acceptance by others. We always want at least one person that we can run to when the chips are down, and someone who will help celebrate the joys along the way. Sometimes you can’t replace a relationship – especially when it comes to family members. But what you can do is fill that void in your life. Love yourself with the time that you’d invest with others. Take a yoga class to meet with new moms, search out support groups in the community with other special needs parents who are experiencing the same left behind phenomenon that you are, or search out a retreat that you and your child with special needs can attend that will make you feel a part of others and the community.

No matter what just Keep Moving Forward.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.