It started as these things often do with a question; raised tentatively, not wanting to be the only one. Seeking out a collective, camaraderie and hoping in equal measure that it was and wasn’t a communal concern.
Actually, it probably started long before that. Perhaps when I noticed that yet another friend had disappeared from social media. Maybe even after the chat with a fellow special school mum, the internal frenzy about the looming summer holidays evident in her voice.
So, I asked the question in a secret support group:
“Do you think that we experience a second drowning? Years later when life settles down; similar to the first when we discovered our child, and by that token our life, was going to be different?”
Chewing my finger nail nervously, invisible yet never more exposed behind my computer screen, I waited. Expecting people to either scroll on past not knowing how to reply, or a small flurry of ‘you okay hun?’ and ‘sending love’ before everyone went back about their day.
But I didn’t. Instead what I got was a direct hit, smack on the rawest of nerves.
So I asked another question: What the bloody hell is this?
You see I’ve done the hard graft. I worked through the stages of grief (and dallied far too long in denial) before landing eventually with a grateful thud at acceptance. We climbed the metaphorical mountain, got to the top and discovered that the views were far from unpleasant – they were in fact largely lovely; glorious even in the right light.
It’s not our children, let me be absolutely clear, that make us sink. A disability campaigner I admire put it best this week when she said: “Our society is generally not equipped to support people like us. Your disabled baby was being a disabled baby, not hatching an evil plan to wreak havoc on you and your family.”
So what is it? I had my own theories, but the group post threw up a few more I hadn’t even considered and it largely fell down to five things.
Self-imposed social isolation
I didn’t realise I was doing it, but I am. And it didn’t…