To the women and families in the waiting room of our pediatric therapy clinic:
It is so often that a special needs parent feels emotions that have been described by many as similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This comparison is often brought up casually by psychologists, the internet, and for me lately in our pediatric therapy clinic family waiting room. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a village where you can talk openly about things like this.
I never thought I’d have a village, and sometimes on the bad days I still feel like I don’t, no matter how well meaning friends and family are. Somehow I was blessed enough to find myself in the same therapy waiting room with all of you week after week, Wednesdays from 1-2, and Thursdays from 12-2. As the weeks and months went on, as our kids had ups and downs witnessed often by the entire room, I realized that I may not be as alone as I had thought.
The more I made myself close my book, stop checking emails and scheduling, and actually talk to all of you the more I realized that there are people who get it. Even in the best circumstance I can be socially awkward, generally having to think about what I say before I say it. In the beginning it was so much easier to just take the time to myself, getting things done. Sometimes I just went into therapy with my son. I spent the weeks watching the rest of you talking about your lives, chiming in once in awhile, but sticking to myself. Eventually I allowed myself to really try to connect with these women, rather than shutting myself in.
I heard stories that were similar to mine, the fears and the triumphs. The not sleeping to the hyper-vigilant state we are in, constantly scanning the environment for potential triggers and dangers. I found myself wondering with concern if a certain family didn’t show because of the big doctor’s appointment you knew they had. But even beyond all of that, I experienced people who didn’t even know each other before sharing their lives.
You were lifting each other up with love and support whether you even knew it or not.
The feeling of sharing even just a few minutes with another person who understands the scheduling nightmare that is a special needs parents life is almost miraculous. Someone who isn’t bothered if you have to stop mid-sentence to immediately take a call from the support coordinator, doctors office, school, or any of the other people you have on speed dial. Or even if you have to leave without notice to attend to a meltdown or toileting accident.
So fellow therapy moms (and dads) please let me take a second to thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for letting me see that there are people who understand. There are other women who can share so much with just a look. I can feel lonely in this crazy busy life but I am not alone (unless I choose to be).
Last week one of the other moms shared one of her secret worries, ‘what will we do when we don’t have this?’ (This being the constant running around, therapies, appointments, etc). Well new friend, I have no clue, but I do know if that day ever comes I hope we will figure it out together. Because fellow therapy families you have shown me that although this may be a road less traveled, it is a road better shared.
So if the time comes that I do not find myself here, in this place with therapies and appointments, I will always remember the strength and community you have given me. This gift of friendship is one that I can take with me for the rest of my life, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This article can be seen on The Mighty at http://themighty.com/2016/02/to-the-parents-i-used-to-shut-out-in-the-therapy-waiting-room/