Posts tagged with: guilt

Understanding and overcoming my guilt

When I first wrote about feeling guilt over my son’s special needs, I had no idea it would strike a chord with so many.

It seems as though all parents – whether their child has special needs or not – bears a certain mount of guilt over their children. So much more so with every parent of a special needs child I have spoken to.

We all have the same demons that swirl in our heads: What did I do wrong? Should I have done this? Could this have happened because I did this? Why didn’t I do this differently? Would my child be “normal” if it weren’t for me?

Here is something I have to continually preach to myself, maybe it will help you as you walk on this journey:

Guilt is a heavy burden to bear. It weighs you down, picks at scabs, pours salt in wounds and whispers insults.

You don’t have to listen. You are not required to carry that load. You don’t have to provide the salt and you can put a bandage over the scabs.

The fact that I carry this guilt around is my choice – even though I don’t want to admit that. I am the one who continues to pick up that baggage and toss it over my shoulder. My child doesn’t look at me and think “Why did you do this to me?” My husband doesn’t wonder how much I contributed to this issue.

This guilt is me – all me. It’s my insecurities and uncertainties.

So today, I am going to start unpacking that guilt backpack. I don’t want to carry it anymore. I plan to unzip it, and unload it one item at a time, until it is empty. I won’t pick it back up and lug it along. I will silence the little imp that tries to whisper to me.

My child is precious – just as he is. All of his special needs are part of him – and part of who he is. I couldn’t control whether he had blond hair or brown hair, or eyes of blue or green. I can’t control anything about him.

I’m setting the bag down – would you like to do the same?

Working through guilt

My last post “When a parent feels guilt” brought a lot of response from friends – both real life friends and cyber friends.

When I wrote that blog I had no idea so many others would identify with what I was feeling and would offer encouragement to me. I posted the link to the blog on my Facebook page and several friends read it and commented on my page there. A few came here to comment, and one even sent me a private message through Facebook.

What I realize is how very blessed I am. Not only do I have a wonderful husband and three amazing kids, but I have friends who are willing to take the time to care.

While being a special needs parent has its ups and downs and in truth – my son’s needs may not seem to special to many others – but they affect our lives and orchestrate much of what we do and how we do it. Even if my son did not have special needs, I realize that I would feel guilt over him – over all of my kids. Isn’t that part of being a parent? We feel responsible for what our children do – the choices they make?

I’m sure the guilt will never completely go away – but to know that others have dealt with the same issues themselves makes me feel less alone. To know that I have friends who understand the pain I sometimes feel and are willing to offer cyber hugs – I can’t even describe how that feels.

I think I already said it best – I feel so blessed.

When a parent feels guilt

I’m sure that most parents of kids with special needs can identify with this – that feeling of guilty, or responsibility for the problems your child has.

I am no different. I have tendencies that are somewhat obsessive and compulsive but I wouldn’t exactly say I’m OCD. I do have attention deficit issues of my own.

What I see in K-Oz, though, riddles me with a guilt that I try to push away and tamp down into the dark recesses of my own thoughts. It is as though he has taken those mild OCD tendencies I have, and the attention decificit issues I deal with and ramped them up to warp speed. He has multiplied them into the beasts that plague him constantly.

I feel guilty. I see some of my own characteristics – magnified – in him and realize that it is probably my gene pool that has brought these things to him.

When K-Oz first started exhibiting his TS symptoms, I did research about it and discovered that stuttering is a form of TS – a cousin of sorts. My father and brother both stutter – so the realization hit me that what was happening to my child probably came from me.

As I watched him, I saw my own eccentricities visited upon him. I have a difficult time getting rid of things. My brain tells me I might need that item, so it must be saved for the possibility it might be needed. That’s why I am buried in clutter. I look at things and my brain can’t sort them or understand what must be done with them (as in put them away, pick them up, get rid of them), instead my mind goes into an endless loop of “what to do? that makes no sense, it’s easier to not do it than try to figure it out” which leaves me unable to complete that particular task.

The obsessive/compulsive side of me will roll something around in my head and work it over in my mind until I’ve exhausted it and am ready to let it go. The compulsive side will tell me that when I get an idea, I must run with it at that exact moment. Now these OCD issues are mild for me – I easily overcome them, but they exist.

For K-Oz – mild on any of these counts is not the case.

What I see in my son is this: Hoarding (“all of these things – even the pieces of trash – may be important and necessary – I can’t let them go”), distraction (“I forgot what I was supposed to be doing”), obsession and compulsion (“there is a flying bug somewhere here – I must watch for it,” and “I cannot pass the couch without rubbing my hands x number of times on the couch, shuffling my feet x number of times on the floor, rinse and repeat until my brain is satisfied and will allow me to pass”) and many other issues.

I feel guilty. I feel as though the struggles my son is dealing with – the things that plague him – are indeed, my fault.

How does a parent deal with that sense of guilt? How does the parent of a child with a severe disability – one that might even be life-threatening – deal with the knowledge or belief that they are responsible for that which hurts their child?

I wish I knew the answer, but all that I can offer is my own experience – I deal with it one day, one event, one incident at a time. That’s my only option. I can’t beat myself up – as much as I would like to. I can’t change things. I can only help my son work through all of this and try to find solutions and ways to deal with all of it.

That’s all I know to do.