Let me preface this by saying that I love my family completely, just the way they are. Nothing will ever change that.
I want to share something that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. Maybe some of you can relate. Maybe not. Either way, this will give you a little more insight into what makes me who I am, good, bad or otherwise.
My journey as a special needs parent began about 12.5 years ago, when I first met Lizze and Gavin.
Over the last decade or so, our family has grown and changed in many ways. Today we are a beautiful family of five. In my family of five however, all three of my boys and my wife have special needs. Some of my family is medically fragile on top of very serious emotional health problems.
What I want to talk about is how I feel, living in a houseful of people with special needs and not being one of them myself. I’ve never touched on this before but I think It’s really important for me to get this out there and reach anyone else that may be going through a similar situation.
As I said before, I absolutely love my family. That being said, sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy because I think and experience life in a very different way than the rest of my family.
I often feel like everyone in my house can relate to each other but me. I have no personal, first hand insight into what life is like with Autism or serious health problems. I’ve always been healthy and aside from PTSD and depression, I’ve not really been dealt a rough hand.
Last night was one of those times where I felt like I was going crazy.
Everyone in the house was experiencing this emotional event (likely a result of the three day weekend and disruption in their routine) that had them in a state of chaos. At least that’s how it appeared to me from the outside.
Emmett and Elliott were overwhelmed, upset and melting down. Lizze was trying to help but was very clearly past her physical and emotional limit. Then of course there was Gavin, who in the midst of all this chaos was only concerned about showing me his castle in Minecraft and endlessly talking to me about it.
Everyone was looking to me for relief and I felt like my head was going to just explode. Aside from sending Lizze to bed and giving each of the boys my complete and undivided attention, there wasn’t really anything I could do in that moment.
When things like this happen, my heart shatters and I feel like I can’t breathe.
The only thing in the world I want to do is make everything better for each of them. At the same time, there’s this part of me that’s screaming and wanting to run away from that moment and catch my breath. It’s literally a fight or flight response.
This should not be taken as me being critical of my family because that’s not even close to my intent.
I’m not sure how this is going to come across to those reading because unless you experience this for yourself, it’s really difficult to articulate.
What ends up happening is that try to prioritize everyone’s needs and attend to them each, the best I can. Often times this means spending way more than what’s in my emotional and physical accounts, in order to bolster each of their balances.
Unfortunately for me, that means that I’m run straight into the ground and much like my real bank balance, dip into the negative.
It’s really difficult to explain how hard that is to survive sometimes. After last night, I barely slept at all and ended up sleeping most of today, while the kids were at school.
The really sad part is that I am fully aware of the fact that what I’m going through pales in comparison to what my wife and kids survive every day. When I realize or remember this, I’m overwhelmed with guilt.
It’s an endless cycle.
At the very same time, I often find myself feeling utterly alone in my family of five.
This site is managed almost exclusively from my Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Please forgive any typos as auto-correct HATES me. 😉
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