I recently this as a guest post for a friend of mine. I hope that you can take away from it the reminders that I needed for myself.
This is for all parents out there. And you know what; it is good advice for any person out there. You don’t need permission to feel. You don’t owe anyone anything that says you can’t feel. Your emotions and feelings are yours. You have to give yourself permission to own those feelings and deal with them not hide them away. That means putting that guilt aside for being a human being. It’s ok to cry if something hurts you.
In the world of being a parent of a special child, things will hurt you from time to time. You will go home and the tears will spill over. Sometimes you won’t even get to the car or out the door before it happens. I remember a time when Emelie was not diagnosed and was about 2. We’d go pick Christian up from school. We walked. She’d sit in that umbrella stroller, so I could control her and keep her safe, and I had to listen and watch her beg me to go play. I knew if we had to leave right away, I had to say no. It killed me inside.
There were times though that I said yes. And we were often there until I knew I had to leave. She wouldn’t want to leave. She now was having fun. She’d be running through the equipment and I’d have to catch her. If I tried to put her back in the stroller, she’d plant her feet and fight pushing her. So I had to carry her. If I carried her facing me, she’d try to head butt me or scratch my face with her fingernails. I learned the easiest way for her and for me to get home was for me to carry her upside down, securing her body to mine, face out so not to get bit until we were out of sight of the playground, and then put her in the stroller that Christian was pushing. All the while until we got to that point she was screaming as though someone was hurting her and I’d be holding back the tears.
As I’d walk away I’d hear the whispers on the playground. I’d see the looks. Even if they weren’t necessarily meant the way I saw and perceived them, they hurt. And many days I got home, got them snack, and took a break in the kitchen crying at the table. Then I’d start to feel guilty for being so “fragile”. There are even days still I feel I have to justify every emotion I’m feeling. I guess in a way it’s that I still have this perception that I shouldn’t be allowed to have these raw emotions.
My family hears it so often, I feel like I’m not allowed to have emotions. I can’t be frustrated. I can’t be angry. I can’t be sad. I can’t be whatever. That I have to wear this freaky “happy” mask all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for eternity. That’s how it feels. But who imposed that judgment and told me that I couldn’t own my emotions? Not Emelie. Not Christian. Not Matt. So who does that leave, me.
I told myself subconsciously that I can’t be anything but happy all the time or something is wrong with me. It’s actually a little twisted. I know I’m not alone in this thought. I think we push ourselves to be these happy little fake plastic robotic moms. Then when we can’t attain this impossible goal we start to think that there has to be something wrong with us.
I’m done. I made a change about 4 months ago, and for the most part it’s brought me some inner peace. First I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would do better to allow myself permission to own all the good feelings, all the bad feelings, all those conflicting feelings, and all the in between stuff too. Secondly, I made sure to get a support system in place. One that I know I can turn to that won’t judge me and vent away. I own all my feelings now.
So no matter what you think, make sure you also feel. You’ll be relieved at how it feels to feel.