I’ve heard a lot of special needs parents talk about how their friendships are not able to survive the changes in their lives that come with having a special needs child. Friends who were once very close can’t cope with the stressors and don’t understand what life is like once you enter this dizzying world of doctors and hospitals, specialists and future which could include things that you as a parent are suddenly too terrified and dismayed at to even face in the daylight. A lot of parents that I know in the special needs community say that its because they talk about their children too much, that friendships become strained because their lives are a series of difficult times that their friends are not able to support. It’s because of the burden that their friends aren’t willing or able to stick around.
It’s important that parents have those friendships. Studies show that a wide group of friends increases health and happiness. People who have a rich life of friendship live longer and are happier. Even for parents who’s children don’t have challenges, it can be difficult to maintain friendships as life gets more hectic.
I have come to a revelation about the issue as there has been some strife in my longtime friendships recently.
I am different now than when Hermione was just a twinkle. I am stronger. I am more convicted about my beliefs. I am more willing to voice them. I am a fighter, with a will of steel. I am able to make sacrifices and decisions that I would never have thought possible. I am also more patient and understanding. Rather than feeling a lack of control in my life, I see how much control we do have to shape our world. I don’t bemoan my life but I also don’t apologize for who I am. I have newfound confidence in myself.
These are all things that were inside of me well before the surgeries and the ambulance rides, the long nights of worry and the demons that come to chase away my sleep too often.
I do think that sometimes my friends don’t understand the depth of these changes in my life. Maybe I don’t talk about them enough. I’m not generally one to complain about the way things are, or at least I don’t think I am. Life is a gift and I’m thankful for it.
Since Hermione came to revolutionize my life, I only find that I have room for people who treat me with kindness, openness and respect. My life is rich and full, and plenty of drama comes from reality. I expect friends to talk to me about what their issues are openly and with trust as that is how I approach the people in my life. I fight enough with things, and I will not fight with my friends.
So when special needs parents say that they have lost friendships over their child, I can see that it may be the case for me as well. However for me it’s not because of the burden that she is but because of the tremendous gifts that she has given to me. I am more than what I was before she came.
For there is a friend for his own occasion, and he will not abide in the day of thy trouble. And there is a friend that turneth to enmity; and there is a friend that will disclose hatred and strife and reproaches. And there is a friend a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.