Lizze and I ended up somewhere today that until recently, I never thought would be necessary. That said, sometimes life has a way of throwing in a detour every now and again. These are unexpected twists and turns that can throw us off course.
My wife and I experienced one such event about two years ago. In fact, it was two years ago on October 14th.
Lizze experienced what we have recently learned is called caretaker burnout.
Anyway, she moved out on October 14, 2014 and we were separated until she moved home this past summer on June 5th. Those two years were very difficult on both of us but most of all the kids.
During that time, I raised the kids and Lizze did what she had to do to get back on her feet. This was easily one of the darkest points in my life but I understand now that this had to happen. We had to experience this in order to be where we are today.
Lizze and I have been doing this for 15 years now and have never really had a break. The kids visit their grandparents overnight and that’s something we are so grateful for.
At the same time, Lizze and I have never been on vacation or gone anywhere overnight. We’ve never had anything like that because we were so wrapped up in the kids, we didn’t have the money and again, we were totally wrapped up with the kids.
If you were a reader from the Lost and Tired days, you are likely aware of all the trauma, turmoil, heartache and pain we’ve been through.
We reached a point where we simply weren’t caring for ourselves or each other because we were so lost in the daily struggles of special needs parenting.
It’s important to know that while Lizze and I were separated, we never actually had martial issues. We rarely fought and loved each other very deeply.
Lizze wasn’t someone who just decided to up and leave her family, although from the outside, one might assume that. The reality was that she gave so much of herself to our kids that she had nothing left, not even for herself. On top of all this, she’s been dealing with chronic health issues ranging from menopause at age 32 all the way up to severe chronic pain.
Why I am I rehashing all of this?
That answer is simple. I don’t want you to fall into the same traps that my wife and I did.
I have a sizable platform and I want to leverage that for the benefit of others. By sharing our story, I’m hoping to get you to take a step back and reevaluate what you’re doing.
Are you taking care of yourself? To be completely honest, I would be shocked if I randomly lined up ten Autism parents and they could truthfully say that they make themselves a priority.
The reality is that most of us probably don’t focus nearly enough on ourselves because we’re so devoted to our kids with special needs. This is so common and it doesn’t really matter what challenges your child is dealing with, we all love our kids and pour every ounce of everything we have into them.
What happens when you have bankrupted yourself emotionally and physically? How can you care for your kids if you’ve run yourself into the ground?
I learned today that in order to be selfless we need to be selfish. This means that in order to do everything we need and want to do for our kids, we have to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves first. That’s so much easier said than done and I’ll talk about that in a later post but back to the original question I posed…
Why are my wife and I in marriage counseling?
The answer to that is very simple. We know that we are very likely to become consumed with all the demands and responsibilities associated with raising our three beautiful but very difficult, special needs children.
Marriage counseling is helping us to find a better balance in life. It’s helping us to remember that we need to focus on and care for ourselves and each other. We are going to be learning tools with which we can better manage the daily stress we face and ensure that our marriage gets the attention it both needs and deserves.
Marriage counseling isn’t a last ditch effort. It’s a very powerful resource that we can use to help us avoid the same pitfalls that are all too common in situations likes ours.