Lately, I have been thinking about friends and friendships. Probably because I am finally on facebook and have been catching up with old friends and, communicating with newer friends. One thing about being the mother of a child with special needs, especially one as involved as mine, is you find it extremely difficult to get together with friends. It’s not a lack of desire, but, a lack of time for myself. In fact, when looking at my time, it is full with taking my son to school, helping in the class, and participating in school therapies, taking him to numerous doctor’s appointments, taking him to therapy after school Monday-Thursday and so on. When Parker’s aid comes, I have time for grocery shopping, errands, making dinner and checking on my emails for the day. Just this week, I was finally able to get back to jazzercise 2 times a week. During the summer, I had to cut back to once a week because I didn’t have any early morning care for Parker.
So, while I try to keep up on friends and friendships, it is very difficult to actually meet up with friends. Each year I think it will be easier and frankly, it is easier. With Parker in school, I get some time for myself and with Bria, Parker’s aid, I get more time. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I have managed to fill these free times with writing books and getting back into acting. It is definitely nice to be able to do these activities which I have been wanting to do, but, had no time to do for the last 9 nine years. But, I still would like to find a bit of time for nurturing friendships and going out for fun! Fun? What is that? I guess I need to take one step at a time.
Besides the practical time issues, there have been other problems that have arisen with having a special needs child. Sometimes, it takes something major to find out who is a real friend and who is not. I learned this the hard way when a good friend of mine, or a friend that I thought was a good friend made it impossible to continue our relationship. Some friendships just tend to be a bit competitive in nature and that was our relationship. I had hopes of transforming into a non-competitive relationship, but, I guess it is hard to break a pattern. From the time Parker was born and we were alerted that something was wrong, we had high hopes that it was not going to be something major and that he would just catch up. Since no doctor could give us a diagnosis and all they could say was that he was delayed, we stayed hopeful. As each year passed and he didn’t catch up, and still no diagnosis was made, it became harder to hold out so much hope. Yes, he would make some small gains, but, then he would have more seizure activity, which we were unaware of, and he would lose the gains he made. So this was my life and what I needed from friends was support, hopefulness, encouragement and love. In this one instance I spoke about, I didn’t get these. Instead, I would pour out my heart about the shear “hell” we were going through at the time and in return I would hear about all the fabulous things going on that person’s life. Now I am not saying that I didn’t want to know about all the wonderful things. I did want to know. It is just a matter of timing. When you know that someone’s life is somewhat of a train wreck and the train just keeps having one wreck after another, you don’t want to flaunt your fabulous jet setter life as a sort of one-upsmanship. That is not friendship. I tried changing how we would speak in terms of the order of telling experiences and in terms of holding back one wreck or another, but, when you can’t have full disclosure, you don’t have much of a relationship. I don’t want to seem as if I was being petty about this “friend”. I really wanted to find a way to relate that wouldn’t cause me such upset and add to my great sadness. I was dealing with a child that had to have 3 major surgeries by the time he was 2 years old. We had been told by numerous doctors, including a geneticist, that he had some syndrome. They just couldn’t figure out what syndrome. He started having seizures at 2 years old as well, but, we were told by neurologists that he was not having seizures. They told us they didn’t know what he was having. We were told to put him on seizure meds by 1 doctor and then another doctor told us he shouldn’t be on seizure meds and should be taken off them. We had “experts” telling us our child would never walk and never talk when he was only a year old and after only a five minute interaction with us. We had others saying he was in need of a feeding tube because of being “failure to thrive”. We had even others telling us of all the peculiarities they saw in him that would indicate a syndrome. All of these events on top of no diagnosis and undiagnosed seizures until 5 years old was an extreme stress for us and the last thing I wanted was to play the my kid did __ game. There are ways to share the happiness in one’s own life without rubbing it into the other person’s face.
Without going on and on about this relationship, in the end I tried to pour out my heart and allow the other person to see the hurt I had and was still feeling. That didn’t work either. My poor bleeding heart was on the floor and the friend chose to step all over it. So I have to tell myself that such a friend was never really a friend to begin with. A real friend would have seen the person crying out in pain and would have chosen to tread lightly until the pain was over and healing could begin.