My husband and I were chatting and said “You should know by now. Rule number 1 of being a sibling is it is never about you”. I believe we were discussing the mask/no mask argument. Definitely got me thinking and he is totally correct. We learn at a very young age, for the good and the not so good reasons, that it is not about us. Special needs siblings shove their needs some where else because it can be all about the siblings needs. This maybe how many of us end up in some kind of social service roles such as medical professionals, social workers, licensed mental health workers, BCBAs, and the list goes on.
I will never forget working at a school and we were having a team meeting about behavior plans for these 2 siblings. The behaviorist says “I don’t know why the mom doesn’t follow our suggestions. It would make her life easier”. Most that know me know that I don’t have much of a filter. This poor parent was raising two children with special needs and the woman has the nerve to say I don’t get it. I suggested that the behaviorist go live their for a weekend and find out why the parent just can’t seem to follow through. Lady- its survival mode. This woman was just happy if no one died that day, ran out of the house, or nothing was broken. Parents and sibs can relate.
My brother (the one who can not hold still) had some pretty extreme behaviors when we were growing up and some pretty scary. He did not sleep and my room was across the hall. Taught me to sleep through just about anything. So unless I was actually dying, my needs were not important in the grand scheme of things. We had plexi on all the windows. His room did not have a light fixture. Once he started going after the dry wall and going after the wires, he was placed in a group home.
Even as an adult, it still is never about me. My parents did not do the greatest job in planning for the future so a lot fell on my shoulders quickly. The other day some one I know sent me a message stating I was a saint. Um, no. Survival skills are powerful as siblings as many of you can relate. It is what was modeled as children. I have gotten better since some of the dust has settled. Yoga and meditation is definitely a key factor. I take care of my mental health and I am definitely ready for a vacation on a remote island with no cell phone service for a least 7 days.
We even bought a car based on my brother and father’s needs. I am not having children. The last time we took out my dad out, he had a challenging time getting in and out of the car. On top of that, his walker did not fit in the back. Then there is my brother. He thinks it is hilarious to open the door when the car is moving. He is Houdini. Child safety locks do not work. I was driving a manual transmission and he also thinks it is funny to shift the car into neutral as we are going down the road.
Teaching others that behaviors of other people have nothing to do with you has been interesting. I have to teach this to parents regarding a child’s behavior a lot. Behavior is a form of communication. I have clients that have gotten a little mad a me for finally drawing some boundaries but this is a new skill. It is about time it is about me. As for the rest of the world, that is a separate blog post.