I realised recently that I am done with the grieving process.
I was grieving one of my daughters not being ‘neuro-typical’.
This may sound odd to you – as my child is still here, happy and incredibly healthy. It was, however, a process of grieving the vision and concept that I’d had of that child, parenthood, etc. There is also the bit that your path parenting this child is not going to be as straightforward as you thought. (I don’t think it’s straightforward for any child, but there are additional expected detours, starts and stops a child with additional needs.)
It started when she was just 12 months old. Red flags raised at check ups. A long questionnaire about everything about her. A hearing appointment. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. Meetings, interviews, forms, appointments with more doctors. Insurance claims.
The potential diagnoses were some of the toughest days of my life. There was a new prospect every few weeks, followed by a lot of research and a plethora of new tests – some invasive – for our toddler.
It was tough. We were managing the emotions of the uncertainty, confusion and fear whilst the time out of our full time jobs to bring her to tests, appointments and therapy sessions.
It is said that there are 5 stages of grief:
I’ve been in those stages for many years and looking back I realise that I have been in acceptance for the last 6-12 months. I no longer cry at every meeting or school report, I no longer feel sorry for her (at all), I don’t feel sad, it does not need to be kept private… but I did experience all of that at one point or another.
I do have days where something happens and my heart breaks for her – maybe it is due to being called ‘weird’ by a kid at school or not having as many friends as she’d like to have… in the end, I’ve learned to let myself feel all the feels in that moment. I see that in the space of 1-2 hours I can now put that situation through the grieving process.
Having a kid with ___________ [insert what you feel comfortable calling it: Additional needs / special needs / neuro- diversity / learning difficuluties / extra awesome!] is not what I was seeking when having children; however, it’s been a transformational journey for our family. We are all more sensitive, accepting and open-minded. We are also demanding of ourselves and those that we surround ourselves with – we want to see similar values and traits in our friendship circles. (We have had that hundred fold in all the communities we have lived in from San Francisco Bay Area to the UAE and London.
I always say that becoming a mother taught me two really beautiful lessons: To love at a different level and that I really don’t have much control of anything. (I do still try to control everything but with two strong-willed, bright and empowered girls – I am schooled on a daily basis.)
Beyond motherhood, this experience has helped me to acquire so many tools to navigate the territory (still so much is unknown!) in a more peaceful and mindful state.
I hung out in the depression phase for a very long time. I was stuck there! I just didn’t know how to get out. Where would I go and what would I do? I stopped caring for myself, I let stress and overwhelm take over and it took its toll.
Doing this alone or without the tools of lots of personal development, journaling and coaching, I would have extended the duration so much longer. I didn’t reach for any support until just four years ago and these last years have been transformational.
I am now in belief. I see a new season of my own personal life. I see that belief is everything and it’s the driving force these days. And with that belief, not so surprisingly, shifts are happening in the most positive ways.
Transformation literally means going beyond your form. — Wayne Dyer.