When I discussed how I transitioned my teen son with autism and ADHD to a residential school last year, I was told by the majority of people that I did the best thing considering I could not meet his needs. That said, I did receive a lot of support and it was quite helpful since it was a difficult time to make that transition. However, there were also plenty of people who told me that I was selfish, lazy and that I should have tried harder to care for him. Not to mention that some of those people told me that I used my depression as an excuse to get out of caring for him.
In all honesty, I don’t take what those who have never been in my shoes say seriously anymore like I once did. If these Judgy McJudgers want to call me selfish for sending my son to live away in a setting where he is getting all of the help he needs so he can become a very high-functioning member of society, then so be it. And they have no business complaining considering that I did something that will save most of their tax dollars from going towards his future care since he will be able to work and support himself for the most part.
In fact, this post is not only about my experiences with those who judged me harshly for making this bold and difficult move. I am only using that as an example to show you one of the many reasons that society as a whole is so faulty.
That is because if you are a martyr, you are seen as a hero. And, at the same token, if you do anything to care for your own needs, you are seen as selfish. What is the problem with this mentality? Oh, there are so many problems with it that I do not have the time and energy to list every single issue.
How have I come to this conclusion? Not just based on what I have experienced personally, but I saw it for myself based on reading about the experiences that many others have shared on social media. That means, whenever I have seen people talking about driving their aging parents to every single doctor’s appointment while they give up their own lives – the responses that they have received from others were about how heroic they were to care for their aging parents. And, of course, they had to throw in there how most people today are too selfish to care for their parents. Why? Because they are busy living their own lives!
I have also read about how several parents that have children with profound special needs plan on caring for them forever, and how they plan to stick the responsibility onto their other kids of caring for them when they no longer can. And, these parents as well are seen as true heroes. Especially how one mother, in particular, talked about on one of the Facebook pages I regularly visit how she has to take a changing pad everywhere since her 12-year-old severely autistic son needs to have his diaper changed often. She was also told how amazing and how wonderful she was to care for her severely disabled child. Additionally, one of the responses that she had received was how so many selfish parents of kids with special needs end up tossing them away to group homes because of the fact that they no longer wanted to be burdened.
Now that I have given you some insight on how martyrdom is glorified, and how caring for your own needs is seen as selfish- it is time that I enlighten you all about the truth. The truth about the fact that being a martyr is not heroic at all. In fact, it only makes you a sucker. Who are you trying to impress by being a martyr? Not me, that is for sure, and all you are doing is perpetuating this faulty view that society has. And, it is time for you to realize that caring for your own needs is far from selfish. In fact, let me ask you this question. If you are unable to meet your own needs, then how can you possibly care for anyone else?
Have you heard the expression that you cannot pour anything from an empty cup? That is about the hardcore truth that if you are not meeting your own needs, then you cannot meet anyone else’s needs either!
And, sometimes that means if you are in a situation where you are unable to be a caregiver, then the best thing you can possibly do is get yourself out of it. And no, I don’t mean by just tossing whoever you are caring for just anywhere because you don’t want to be bothered anymore. I am talking about being honest with yourself about the fact you cannot simply do the job anymore, and then by doing your research to find the best solution. Most of the time that will involve having to send the one you are caring for away from home to the right environment where he or she will have his or her needs met.
And, parents are really responsible for planning their own care for the future so they don’t stick their kids with having to care for them instead of them living their lives. Even if you are struggling with money, you can always put a little away each month so that you have enough funds to hire caregivers if necessary. All you have to do is make the call to a financial planner to learn about your best options. And, I have already made plans for my future so my daughter will not need to care for me and her dad when that time comes. She also will not need to be responsible for her brother, because she deserves to live her own life.
By the way, I am not at all saying to just toss your aging parents or children with complex special needs away and to just forget about their existence. You are still responsible for looking out for their wellbeing, and by staying in their lives by visiting them and calling them. Because if you go the other way by tossing them somewhere and then having nothing to do with them again- that makes you a selfish ass. The only time I can understand how anyone could do that is if they are in a situation where they need to send their aging parents away who have always been abusive towards them. In that situation, I can’t blame you at all.
However, if you all you are doing is changing adult diapers, struggling to feed them, struggling to dress them, and to bathe them, while you are enduring the physical abuse that comes with them having tantrums while you had forgotten how to live your own life- then it is time to stop being a martyr and to find the best solution which will involve them getting their complex needs met while you also can finally meeting your own needs as well.
Sometimes you will have to spend money, and sometimes you will have to go through some hard steps to make it happen. But in the end, once you see that the one that you have been caring for has been doing well and that you finally can learn about who you are again- that is when it pays off. That is when you will see that you are not scoring any points by being a martyr. That is also when you will see that once you have learned about how to take care of yourself so you can meet your own needs, and the needs of your other children (this is especially true if you have a disabled child that has been taking all of your time up to the point that you not only ignored your own needs but the needs of your other kids). That is the situation where everyone will win! Now let me ask you this. How is that selfish?
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