Broken Wings Part 5: What I Wish My Spouse Knew

What I Wish My Spouse Knew About Our Child With Special Needs

This series was inspired by a Facebook post I read six weeks ago. A member posted this question “Does having a special needs child affect your marriage?” Post after post, people shared examples of how their marriage was tested. Some made it, others did not. I always wanted to create a platform where people could talk and share their experiences, the good and the bad. I cannot thank my collaborator Wrae Meredith Sanders enough for her open and honest contributions. Whatever your decision is, I hope you know you’re not alone and you will make it.

This is the last part of this series. Please feel free to like, comment, and share.

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There are many things that I can look back on now and wish that I could change. I’m unable to change the damage that was done to our marriage- both of us did things that we regret but we have been able to move forward together.

If I’d known that we would disagree so much and loudly, I would have shut the door a little more. I would have stopped and asked for a break–this would have helped more than we realized at the time. I would have asked why we had to be right all the time instead of coming up with a compromise.

Julian Needed Us to Come Together, Not Fall Apart

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If I’d known then that I’d spend many nights crying myself to sleep for so many reasons, I would hit the rewind button. I would figure out each separate reason instead of letting it all become a big ball of depression.

I thought I was doing the right thing–fighting you for Julian’s needs. This turned out to be two evaluations, a diagnosis of ADHD (combined), traits of Asperger’s (later amended to High Functioning Autism) and medications. He also needed group therapy.

Moms are supposed to do what it takes for their kids, right? The only thing is, I did it alone. I didn’t listen to you. You didn’t want any of these things to happen because you were in denial. If I had known what to say and not be confrontational, I would have done it. But I didn’t. That’s where I went wrong.

I tried explaining, even in a way you could understand but that didn’t do it. In your family, disabilities aren’t real unless you see it. Julian has the kind you can’t see. You couldn’t see it, so it didn’t exist. This even applied when Julian almost broke my nose and I had to get X-Rays.

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I sought out ways to deal with the loneliness. When your husband is in denial and emotionally bashes you daily, you have to find a way to cope. I drank. That was not productive at all.

I went out a lot with people who turned out to not be good for me, you even tried to tell me, but I didn’t trust you enough to care. I worked out in the gym obsessively and lost 60 lbs. Even my doctor was concerned. I barely ate for days on end. This didn’t help my decision making.

What I Know Now

We worked hard to put this family back together. I still have problems opening up to you this day. I finished therapy two months ago. You were there from day one to the last and cheered me on the whole time.

During that time, Julian has grown, and he has done well. He finished group therapy and dealt well with a change in providers. He is going into the seventh grade after a few bumps adjusting to middle school.

You’ve become so supportive of Julian and I. When he has a bad day, I know I can tell you about it. You’re happy when he does well. Raising kids isn’t easy and we have three. Having a kid with special needs makes things a bit more interesting and sometimes difficult. I’m glad that both of us decided to make this work.

Thanks. I know Julian wouldn’t say it but I’m sure he likes his mom and dad being together.

Love always…

Wrae

What I Wish My Husband Knew About Being A Special Needs Mom

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Dear Husband,

Never at the age of forty did I dream I would marry, then become pregnant a few months later. It took us both by surprise yet we agreed to go on this wild journey called parenting. I had a little more experience with raising a child as my daughter was fourteen when we tied the knot.

I was fat, tired, and cranky–everything a pregnant woman is and probably will be as long as little humans continue to beautifully invade our personal space. There were precautions because of my age and health, but I was sure I would go full term.

But I didn’t. He came nearly three months early. After a long stay at the hospitals, oxygen tanks, and therapy, our baby boy could live a normal life.

There’s Something About Keith

We both noticed how energetic he was, how once he started talking he couldn’t stop, and how sleep evaded him. No worries though, I sleep trained him. Plus, kids are naturally talkative and hyper, right?

But he never slowed down. After being kicked out of two daycares, we had him evaluated. I already knew, but I wanted to hear the doctor say it. He had ADHD.

Now here’s where the story starts to fall apart

I ran straight towards the ADHD armed with books, natural medicine because our pediatrician refused to help him, and age-appropriate behavioral techniques. You ran in the other direction, straight to the door of denial.

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Days grew into weeks, months, and even years. Six years isn’t much time to some, but when a person feels like they’re carrying the load alone, it can seem like a millennium.

The feeling is familiar because I went through the same thing raising my daughter alone. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I feel that way now.

As the primary caregiver, I stay on top of his meds, homeschool him, and take him to the doctor’s appointments.

I know you can argue that since I don’t have a nine to five, I should be doing this anyway. I remember carrying the same load as a full-time working mom too.

And when you did participate…

Yes, you went to the doctor with us sometimes. You ‘yessed’ your way through the appointments, but the heavy part of the load rests on my shoulders.

When he’s having a bad day, I try to redirect. You punish him by sending him to bed.

If he talks back, I remind him that his behavior is inappropriate, you yell at him and say things he will repeat later when he’s frustrated.

Even when you excuse yourself from spending time with him, he loves you anyway.

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If I thought you would really listen to what I have to say, I’d tell you that you are creating an insecure man who will be afraid to share his feelings, think he isn’t good enough and may do inappropriate things to get attention.

But I’m not brave enough. What I am is strong. I’m strong enough to walk away and do it on my own.

I don’t want to, but his well being comes first. The only reason I haven’t walked away now is that much like a little girl, I have hope.

You’re not a bad person. That’s why I haven’t left yet.

Until then, I pray we can fix these broken wings.

Love,

Bonnie

Comments? Leave them below.

Thank you so much for reading this series! We appreciate your support during this month. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can catch up here:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Guest Post with Kirsten

I found this to be so helpful and hope that others do too! Thanks so much, Kirsten!

5 Effective Ways to Overcome Squirrel Syndrome

You’re in your home office. You sit down, power up your computer and get logged in. You think, man this computer is slow, I should look into getting a new one. It’s time to upgrade anyway. The computer finally boots up and you do your normal routine of checking emails, checking your site stats and then you decide to really hunker down and get some real work done.

You’ve got your list of things that you know you need to do and start working on them. Halfway through that first task, you realize another more urgent task you need to get done. So you switch to that task. 15 minutes later, another task catches your eye and you start working on that.

The more you think about it the more your to-do list piles up. Then you start to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worry if you’ll actually be able to get any of it done. As you try to get a grip on all of these things you need to get done you realize that you’re not really handling anything. Somehow, you’ve worked yourself into a mini panic attack without doing anything in particular.

You realize it was like this the last day you worked. In fact, almost every day you’re working you always seem to be chasing squirrels. You work yourself into exhaustion, yet you somehow can’t recall anything specific you did. It’s all kind of a blur.

Life and work don’t have to be this way. If you struggle with anxiety and depression you may realize that this type of thing happens way more often than you’d like.

And odds are you may even have ADD or ADHD mixed in. That’s quite the mental illness cocktail! However, let me tell you there are steps you can to overcome this. Like creating a new habit, mental focus takes practice and lots of it. Get into a routine and follow these 5 effective ways to overcome squirrel syndrome.

Prioritize.
You can’t do everything at once. The old myth of multitasking has trained us to think that by doing several things at once we’re being more productive. However, studies have shown the opposite to be true. By multitasking productivity is reduced, there are more errors, stress is increased, and memory is impaired.

Instead, make a list of all the tasks you need to get done that day. Do spend more than 5 minutes making this list. After you’ve made your list highlight the top 3 things that you MUST get done that day.

Start with the first most pressing task and work on that. Do NOT move on to the next task until that first one is finished. Only when you’ve completed the first task should you allow yourself to move on to the next. You’ll work more efficiently this way because you won’t waste time switching gears and then back again. It will also stop you from getting so overwhelmed you do nothing at all.

Radio Silence.
You’ve decided you’re not checking your messages, yet you are still aware that your phone is buzzing. If even after turning off notifications you find you’re still thinking about your phone, you’re still distracted. Don’t be afraid to put your phone in your desk drawer and close it so you don’t see that flashing light alerting you of another new notification. Truly disconnect here so that you are not distracted. If it’s important enough, they’ll leave a message.

Admit you’re distracted.
Yes, it’s ok to admit this. It happens to the best of us. Just telling yourself “I’m distracted” activates a brain circuit that makes it easier to drop what’s irrelevant and get back to focusing on what’s important. But make sure you do not dwell here. Admit it and immediately take action to remedy it.

Take breaks.
I’ll admit, I’m the worst at this. I tend to forget to take breaks because when I am focused it’s hard to pull away. Luckily what I have found works for me, is to have an accountability partner (“AP”). My AP reminds me when it’s time to take a break. And sometimes just knowing that she is going to remind me, triggers my brain to realize when it’s time to take a break as well.

A study found that workers were most productive when they worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break. Ideally, that break time should be spent away from your desk.

If you work in an environment where taking breaks every hour isn’t possible, try to at least take mini-breaks, even if it’s just mentally. Most workplaces are pretty good about letting their employees take frequent breaks because they realize the stress that overworking can cause. If you’re an entrepreneur and work from home, you may need to be more mindful of this task.

Set reminders in your calendar to alert you when you should be taking a break.
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, find time to eat lunch away from your workspace. Focus on the food you’re eating. Indulge in the smell and taste of your food. If you can go outside. Either eat outside or go for a walk. Notice the smells. Breathe in the fresh air.

Witness the vibrant colors of the trees, buildings, cars, or sky around you. Be present in the moment and do not think about what’s waiting for you back at your desk.
Once your break is over, return to your desk and attack your tasks with a vengeance. You’ll be surprised how much clearer your mind is and how much faster your work gets done.

Rest.
How do you know you’re not getting enough sleep? You may find yourself nodding off during meetings. Or you feel foggy and slow. Exhaustion effectively lowers your IQ and reduces (if not entirely eliminates) your ability to concentrate.
If you’re feeling fuzzy or especially sleepy, squeeze in a 10-20-minute power nap instead of ignoring your drowsiness.

Resist the urge to power through with caffeine. Of course, it can provide a temporary boost, but studies have shown it stops being effective after multiple days of sleep deprivation. Also, the post-caffeine crash can be devastating.

Instead of trying to band-aid the gaping gash of tiredness with caffeine, fix the issue. Take the necessary steps to get enough sleep at night. If that means you need to adjust your routine, do so. By getting enough sleep, you’ll awaken ready to take on the world with renewed focus.

By following these strategies regularly you’re exercising your brain to have better mental focus. This not only helps in the workplace with tasks you need to get done but also for tasks that need to be tackled throughout your life. Training your brain this way will greatly reduce your anxiety, depression and any attention deficit you may have. Give these a try!

About the Author
Kirsten Weinzierl is the owner of ObtainingBliss.com. She loves and truly believes in the power of personal development, self-care and self-reflection. She writes with humor and discusses topics like relationships, parenthood, body happiness and her love of food. However, she also writes about tough topics like depression, anxiety, suicide, and domestic violence.
You can check out her blog at:
Obtaining Bliss
You can also connect with her on the following Social Media platforms:
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Pics: pinterest and Unsplash

Guest Post with Ellen

Today’s guest post is with Ellen. It combines two things I love- music and self- care! I loved the idea when she and I discussed it. Music can be a huge pick-me-up on days that we really need it. It definitely has been for me. Enjoy!

Music Playlist for Not So Good Days
I’m the type of person who doesn’t feel like talking to anyone or feel unmotivated on bad days. But if there’s one thing that cheers me up, it’s music. Yep, music. Not the ones that makes you feel even more sad and down in the dumps, I’m talking about the upbeat, cheery ones that one can get off their chair and dance to.

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I definitely had those types of bad days before where it occurred to me that I’m typically just depressed. I found it hard to concentrate on work and other lifestyle things that was needed to do during the day. Reassured, I have a playlist folder full of songs that make me feel happy which in favour, actually makes me happy. It doesn’t really matter if the song is really old and ancient, new or even in a different language! The most important part is how the song makes you feel deep inside.
So, are you having a bad day and need some good happy music to turn that frown upside down?

  1. Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten [link: https://youtu.be/b7k0a5hYnSI]

Remember this song? (oh, the nostalgia is coming back at me.) This song was played a lot in skin care commercials. I can’t believe it was released in 2009! I feel so old now. Natasha’s voice is so smoothing and I love the background music with it’s “tingle” feel to it. The lyrics however have a meaning behind it which is, “don’t let anyone take ‘you’ from ‘you’” (if that even makes sense.)

  1. Sara Bareilles – Brave [link: https://youtu.be/QUQsqBqxoR4]

Again, another nostalgia of mine. This song is a motivation and catchy, honestly (no puns intended.) It’s a great song to keep your head held up high and do what you want to do no matter what is holding you back. This is a great song to follow your dreams or even listen to before an interview and of course, listen to when you feel down. “Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down” honestly, same girl.

  1. Bruno Mars Ft. Cardi B – Finesse [link: https://youtu.be/LsoLEjrDogU]

I love Bruno Mars so there’s going to be 2 songs of his in this playlist. The tunes are old school 90’s type of music mixed (think of Fresh Prince of Bel Air) with the king of pop, Michael Jackson (rip). Mixed them both together and you get yourself Bruno Mars. Seriously? It’s so catchy that I literally dance every time I listen to his songs. (I’m not kidding!) This is a great start on getting yourself out of that bad mood and going to the gym!

  1. Camila Cabello Featuring Young Thug – Havana [link: Havana]

Gotta be honest with you, this song is so catchy! (ok I need to stop using the word “catchy” a lot) but I’m serious! I want to go to chorography class while listening to this song. I bet you you’ll start singing along after listening to this song for a while because I sure know I did! I mean, who wouldn’t lip sync “Havana, ooh-na-na”? I literally have this stuck in my head now. Definitely a great distraction from a bad day!

  1. J-Hope – Daydream [link: https://youtu.be/OK3GJ0WIQ8s]

I know, I know, this isn’t English but I would still recommend you listen to this during a not so great day. If you haven’t heard, Kpop is going worldwide international, spreading like the plague. But this isn’t plague, it’s music in Korean. Oh ok, can I just admit, that this song is pretty much what I listen to everyday which is why I’m pretty much nearly happy all the time? (that’s why I’m adding this to the list.) Just listen to the background music and his voice and you’ll be bobbing your head to the music (I am totally not doing that now -cough-.) Oh yeah, you’re probably get “wishing on a sky, wishing on a scar” stuck in your head. What? A scar?

  1. Twice – Likey [link: https://youtu.be/V2hlQkVJZhE]

Lastly on the playlist, again, this is Kpop (so you won’t understand unless you know Korean). But, I would still recommend listening to this when you’re sad because it’s so upbeat and happy that I cannot stop listening to it as well as the music video. Literally, the music video makes me happy already with the bright colours and the burst of yellow (a happy colour). The beats give me chills because girl, I have never in my life time heard that type of music like that before. The song and choreography are so addicting that there’s hundreds and thousands of covers on YouTube. Definitely recommend this music video if you want to feel happy. Oh yeah, “Me Likey” is probably going to also be stuck in your head as well.
That’s the last of the playlist. I dance and sing every time I listen to these songs during my bad days and I hope you would do the same!
Author Bio:
Ellen Tran is the owner of a lifestyle blog called ZyraKuma. She posts about lifestyle, self-wellbeing, productivity and relationship advice. She currently is a student, studying art, media and graphic design. In her free time, she likes to draw, play video games, read and blog. She also has a pet duck.
Social Media:
Blog – https://www.zyrakuma.com
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/zyrakuma
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/zyrakuma
Picture courtesy of Unsplash

Guest Post with Ashley 2

The irony.. two Angelas and now, two Ashleys! I know a lot of women named Ashley in real life so this wasn’t a huge surprise.

Thanks so much for your perspective on life and hair, Ashley! I enjoyed this a lot.

‘Going Natural’ Taught Me I Lacked One Very Important Thing
It was a normal Saturday. I sat in the hair salon and watched my stylist run back and forth from head-to-head. She had told me to be there at 8:00 a.m. The time was now 10 a.m. and she still hadn’t started me. This was a very typical occurrence; she was always late and overbooked. When the clock struck 11, I had made the decision to leave.
I went home and wondered what I was going to do with this head. I had so much ‘new growth’ and needed my hair done so bad. I looked in the mirror and decided in that moment, I was going to stop relaxing my hair. I started to comb the internet for information on how to transition from relaxed to natural. There’s so much information out there a girl can get overwhelmed.
After about six months of being natural, I had tried so many different hairstyles. After about a year, I was completely natural. I was supposed to feel happy and liberated but I didn’t. I actually hated myself and the way I looked. I couldn’t stand to look in the mirror. I called myself ugly and other horrible names everyday. I wished it was more of a loose curl pattern. I literally watched my self-esteem go down the drain as I grew my hair longer and longer.
Being ‘natural’ taught me that I lacked self-love terribly. Being ‘natural’ was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Think about that. Wearing my hair the way it grows out of my head, was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was so supportive. He told me how much he loved it. He told me how beautiful I was on a daily basis. That was great but it still wasn’t enough. Being validated by another person is not enough if you don’t have that love within yourself. He knew that I didn’t so he was trying to fill a void.
As time went on, it never really got better. After two years of talking to myself in a discouraging manner, my self-esteem was non-existent. I ultimately ended up relaxing my hair again. This is something that I felt guilty for. I felt guilty for not being able to find the love in myself to embrace who I was. After relaxing my hair, I learned that there’s nothing I could do to my hair to make me change the way I felt about myself. I had to reverse the years of emotional, verbal, and mental abuse. I had to accept who I was and what I looked like.
I learned that I only get one chance at this life. There’s only one me and I was created in an image. I don’t get to be someone else. I don’t get to look like someone else. I am me. That’s all I can be. Why waste your life wishing you were someone else. To this day, I still struggle with self-love but the difference is, I’m more aware of my issues. I’m aware that I seek outside validation and the minute I start doing that, I look inward and seek for it in myself.
About the Author: I’m Ashley. I’m a 20-something from Wisconsin. I am the Founder and Content Creator of Just a Millennial Girl Blog. A space for Millennial women who are crafty, entrepreneurs, go-getters, moms, single, or dating. There is something for everyone over at Just a Millennial Girl.
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