I can't even begin to express how lucky I am to have my "Soul Sisters" behind me. The amount of support and love they have given me is immeasurable. I have no doubt that we would not be moving forward with Noah as we are if I had not met them.
One of the best sources of support for our group is that we have a private place to chat with each other. The only place many of us can really let it all out and say the hard stuff, that "normal" people would not understand.
Everyone there is struggling with their kids. Kids that are dealing with developmental delays and mental illness. So many different diagnoses: RAD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, FASD, ASD, PDD, etc. etc. All of the children hurt by trauma of some type.
We are families that are struggling to keep it together. That are fighting to stay safe. That are fighting to find services for our children. That are fighting to keep even the smallest bit of hope alive.
Many of the women I have met have lost relationships during their journey. Relationships with friends, coworkers, neighbors, parents, brothers and sisters, spouses.
It's painful, and isolating. And reinforces already complex feelings of failure because we haven't been able to "fix" our children.
And in some ways we kind of understand why these relationships have broken. Certainly if we don't understand our own children, how can we expect others too? So many of us have struggled for years trying to find the correct diagnoses, trying to find the right help. Reading book after book. Scouring the Internet for resources. Trying over and over again, and seeing little if anything help change our children's behaviors.
So we think we have failed. Again. And when our friends or family pull back, that reinforces the feelings of failure.
We know that "typical" parenting techniques don't work with our children. Believe me, I think we have all tried them. Of course we have tried them. Because that's what we hear from other parents, and even from professionals.
We joke together about how many times "sticker charts" or "picture schedules" have been suggested. How many times we have been told to use "natural consequences" and "time outs." Or the old school thoughts on spanking.
How often have we heard that "you let your child get away it." "If you were firmer with her she wouldn't do that." "You need to let him know who is the boss." "You let him run the show."
How often is it implied that we are the reason our children are "fucked up."
How often do we feel judged, and wonder if maybe "they" are right.
At a minimum our kids behaviors are annoying and frustrating, at their worst they are frightening.
So how can we blame others if they stay away. If they don't want to have our children around them?
Truth be told, I can't blame them. Yet, it doesn't mean we don't need our family and friends. It doesn't mean that it isn't very painful when those relationships are lost, whether the bonds are cut by them or by us.
It's not our children's fault that they are damaged. It's not our fault as their parents either.
It's ironic actually, that so many of us are trying to teach our kids what love is, and what family is, and how to trust others, yet we are lacking that in our own relationships with our own families.