In 2018, my partner and I were just coming off a move. I was in a job that I didn't quite like. And I’d become the primary caregiver to my son with disabilities because my partner’s job required her to work late.
I knew I could handle it, but I could feel it being tough. I felt myself growing smaller while all my responsibilities seemed bigger. And more than anything, I realized that my capacity to help my family to the best of my abilities grew smaller every day.
I didn't handle it well at first. I never got short or snapped at my kids, but I felt myself becoming distant. Everything seemed like a “have to” instead of a “get to.” I was talking to my partner about it, and she bravely said, “I don't know what else to do to support you. I think you might need to go talk to a therapist.”
The thought hadn't really crossed my mind. But I figured: nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I went to one therapist, and it didn't work out so well. It would have been easy to give up on therapy at that point. But again, this was about improving my capacity to support my family. So I went to another therapist.
The session was a gripe fest. I didn’t walk away with any new solutions. But I did walk away challenged to think about my responsibilities differently and with homework. That put me in a position to work on who I was, how I thought, and how I could feel more in control of my time.
Four years later, I still see this therapist. I still struggle, but it’s nothing compared to where I was at that point.
Please don't think this is some self-serving narrative about how I got help. This was about me being better so that I could work with insurance companies, teachers, Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings, and therapists — all this stuff takes a toll on us as parents. And we have no choice but to do it and take care of it all.
The choice we do have, however, is how we’re going to manage the stress. How are we going to develop the capacity to do what we need to do every single day? Because our kids deserve our best. And they need us to be at our best when talking to the ARD committee. Because if we’re not at our best, they don't get the services they need.
If you are struggling, please talk to someone. Talk to a therapist. Talk to someone who you trust. Take the time to talk to someone who will challenge you to be better while also affirming who you are. The same way we drink coffee and eat food to fuel our day, we must find ways to fuel our spirit.
Therapy can do wonders. Find more information about the power of counseling right here.