After my daughter Casey was born, I felt very alone. She had many serious medical issues. I was surrounded by friends and family who wanted to help. But I felt none of them could possibly understand what I was going through. All of them had healthy children. They were living the lives I wanted. I was filled with sadness, anger, jealousy, and so many dark feelings that I felt more and more alone every day.
As I sat in doctors waiting rooms and therapy clinics, I noticed that I often saw many of the same faces. Eventually, I got up the nerve to say hello and introduce myself. Over the years, some of the people I met in these scary waiting rooms also became some of my closest friends. They understood me in a way others didn’t. We would lean on each other for advice and support and to provide a safe place when we needed it most.
A few years after Casey’s birth, social media really grew. I found myself meeting people online from all over the world. We all had similar stories, challenges, and fears. There were social groups created online that brought us all together in ways I had never imagined.
I heard a term a long time ago: sisters by circumstance. I love this. In this community, we were all like sisters or brothers. And the bond we shared, and still share, was as strong if not stronger than the bond I share with some members of my own family.
What was funny is that other than having our children to bond over, most of these amazing people and I had little to nothing else in common. If it had not been for our kids, we likely would never have met. Thanks to Casey I was able to meet many wonderful, strong, and inspirational people.
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to travel and meet some of these virtual sisters and their kids. For years, we only knew each other through social media. Yet I was welcomed into their homes and lives. When we would meet in person it was as if we had known each other our entire lives.
Sadly, Casey passed away in 2016. But my bonds with other parents I have met remain. These people are the ones who continue to help me each day. I have a great family and my blood-related sisters are great. As are all of my in-laws and extended family. My sisters by circumstance though, well, they have a really special place in my heart. They always will. I could not have gotten through everything that I have without their support. Connecting with other parents can make all the difference.
I was surprised how parenting a kid with intensive needs affected my relationship with my older children and my extended family.
Categories: Family Support