Few people willingly enter the world of special needs parenting. Most of us have lived our lives naively ignorant that it even exists. Until one day we find ourselves flailing and gasping for breath having been catapulted into this strange, new land. Few other life experiences have such a far reaching impact on the lives of a family than to be thrust into the special needs community. Though the circumstances may vary, there are common characteristics of those who are living in this reality.
Two of the greatest are the feelings of loneliness and despair. Your world has been turned upside down. All your hopes and dreams have died and the life you now live and the future you foresee is vastly different from what it was. You begin to feel lost and alone. Everything has become unstable; uncertain and you face life with trepidation. Nothing is as you thought it should or would be. This changes you. Your friends no longer know or understand you because you don’t even know or understand yourself anymore. Your life goals, your perspective, your priorities, even your vocabulary begins to change and you find yourself vacillating between two worlds-your past and your present. It seems impossible to get a foothold in either. The future feels so dark and hopeless.
But then you begin to meet others who, like you, are trying to understand and navigate this confusing and challenging place. Slowly, with the help of these new friends, you begin to accept, not only the changes in your life, but you begin to see the beauty in it. You realize that what seemed so awful and unbearable, though still difficult, has actually become a catalyst for personal growth. Being with others who “get it” and who accept you, with your open, festering wounds and inconsistencies brings about healing, hope, and a new awareness of the value of life-all life.
Finally, you begin to find your place and purpose again. The wrestling between your two worlds lessens because a bridge is being built that joins the best of both. This group offers those who feel lost and alone in the overwhelming world of special needs a place of refuge and acceptance. It is a place to find the encouragement, resources and companionship needed to begin the rebuilding of your world.