Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Living the Lie?

Dear Special Needs Parents,

Stop me when you've said this......ready........

"I'm the only one who can take care of my child"

"Nobody else can take care of my child like I can"

"My child would be lost without me"

I said it.  In fact, I LIVED it.  Every time Tyler looked at me I told myself he would implode without me watching his every move.  I thought nobody else on earth could understand his queues other than me.  I expected the phone to ring an hour after we took him to his home that day with someone screaming in the background "COME GET HIM!!!!".

The phone didn't ring.  That's not to say it went smoothly, in fact it was the opposite.  In that moment and for about 24 hours he did implode in a way.  He also did some demolition work on the house.  Every bad, ugly reaction I was afraid of  happening DID happen.  But the next day it got 1% better.  And the next did the same.  And the next.  And the next.  He learned that he was "ok" and that new ways of doing things were not so bad.  We had conditioned him one specific way for 25 years. They were simply wiping that slate clean and starting over the way an adult like him should be living.  

My friend Pete asked me today if I thought we had "held him back".  With the benefit of hindsight I had to say "yes".  By doing things the best way WE knew how to, we were having him live the same day over and over again basically.  I could not have seen that without seeing his progress now.

Tyler needed a stroller/wheelchair everywhere we took him so we could control his uneven gait and uneven behavior.  We were convinced it was necessary.  He now walks into stores and church and everywhere else without it.  The agency has never used it.  Tyler now loves to help do housework around the house in ways we could not give him the chance to do. With us we could not handle him at the dentist, now he goes and does a cleaning with no problem.

Of course its hard to admit.  But I couldn't be happier than to be so wrong.  This is Tyler's life, and not mine.  He has every right to live his life in an independent way.  He became an adult and was no longer a child and we had to give him the right to live that way.

Do NOT tell yourself that lie...please.  If you believe that only you can care for that child or that person, you are robbing them of the ability to live their lives.  That statement is born from fear.  Its the justification for never letting go.  It's a statement that is not about that person, but about you.  I know that sounds harsh and direct but having the correct frame of mind for these decisions could make a tremendous difference in your quality of life, and theirs.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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