I finally confided in a friend about the challenges we were having with our son. You'll never guess how she reacted in my attempt to stop the isolation of raising a challenging child in a challenging world.
The verbal abuse.
The physical aggression.
The threats to hurt himself.
The accusations of his family wanting him to die.
Each word choked from my mouth and my heart felt a sigh of relief.
I apologized fumbling with the lacings on my sneakers as we chatted over coffee, hanging out while our sons played in the other room.
“Don't apologize. I get it,” she said to me looking me straight in the eyes.
Yes, yes. I am not alone. She gets it. I felt hopeful. I felt cleansed and ready to tackle the next step in our plan to help our son with his big emotions.
The isolation is real.
I knew that much.
We live in a world of highlight reels where everyone's life is supposed to look as best as it possibly can look to the outsider. We're never supposed to back down. We're always supposed to hold our heads high and get after it.
I knew that much. I embraced it. I accepted it, the truth.
So, when my friend accepted me and my child for all that we have to carry with us every day, I was relieved and felt full of hope.
But you see, this friend stopped coming by and stopped asking for my son to come over to hang out. This friend told me one thing and did something entirely different. She appeased me but decided she didn't want anything to do with me, with us.
I choose to believe my sons biggest challenges are his greatest gifts. I will continue to live every moment in that truth.
Here is the hard truth, though, the message I need to send out to the great big wide world of parents, of human beings…
Stop the isolation. Start living the truth. We all have difficult days. We all have challenges that meet us with heavy hearts and bursting emotions. The highlight reel is inspiring but it lacks truth. Your Facebook feed offers a glimpse into a life that is far more complicated.
Isolation is Real.
Love without judgment. Offer support. Make the room to be a pillar of a friend's life.
There will come a time when you will need to lean on someone and you will need someone to lift you up, to make you feel like you're not alone in a cold room with windows wide open and all eyes upon you for judgment.
Accept that life is hard.
Accept that we don't have all the answers.
Accept that there are few things we have control over in our short time on this great big earth.
One of those “things” is how we treat people and how we make others feel.
Ask yourself: how can I make this world a better, a stronger space for all of us.
Here's to the parents and caretakers of the not so perfect kids.
Here's to the parents and caretakers who elevate their child's differences and celebrate their uniqueness.