A new week and I bring some new perspectives to the table.
Last week I wrote about school and work,
This week I return to the subject of family.
Q: Is your family life affected by disability? In what ways?
I have shown the strength and character of my parents in past answers:
This time I thought, with the word “family”, in the question that I would ask the other two I have not asked yet: my older brother and sister.
I have two amazing parents and a younger brother who knows what it’s like because he was born visually impaired too.
My two older siblings have been there from the start and I wanted to share their point-of-view because if anyone was affected, good or bad, it would be them.
I ask my brother and then my sister this question and this is what they said:
P: That is a tough question to answer.
At first I wanted to say yes. Mainly because I always felt like I needed to protect/help you growing up and even today though I don’t see you guys very often.
But I would imagine that every big brother would feel that way about younger siblings. Worrying when you were sick or going into the O.R.
Honestly I cannot think of a particular situation.
The only scenario that comes to mind is while viewing a movie or television program, I’d always try to describe in as much detail as possible what you were missing. I’ve always wanted to make sure that you and your brother never miss out on anything that sighted people take for granted.
So to answer your question, are we affected? Life may have been different for us growing than for most kids. But this is all I’ve ever known and couldn’t imagine it any other way.
K: Growing up having siblings with a disability is like anything in life, especially as a teenager, you can feel self conscious – even when it’s by association. No one likes to feel out of place. At the same time, it came with a strong urge to protect and defend.
That being said, that was only part of what it was like growing up in a family that visibly, can seem a little different. More importantly, I think it has helped to show how differently people can be whether outwardly or more under the surface. I think it made me a better person, more understanding and compassionate. It showed me that any disability, big or small, can be overcome by both those around you and those with the impairment.
My parents displayed this with their never ending ability to give my siblings the chance to take on the world with the least resistance possible. It also showed the power those with disabilities themselves can display when given the chance, that all people can thrive when given support and proper circumstances.
Mostly though, it was just my family, at the end of the day (and really at the beginning and in the middle of the day and all the moments in between). They’re just your little sister and brother – and as you get older you no longer notice those stares, and that feeling of self consciousness becomes an awareness that our differences need to be celebrated and not a cause for feeling out of place. All people have their own disability, some are just more obvious than others.
When I asked them this question I knew it could be a difficult one. You have to understand that this was a difficult question. Just think of anything or anyone in your life that has always been there. That is “normal” for you, in a way that might not be true for someone else.
As for my siblings, I wondered if it would be hard for them to think of any actual examples or if they could possibly be hesitant to say something that might hurt my feelings if I knew it because, honestly, I have felt guilty in the past.
I know people stare and I know, children especially, don’t like to feel out-of-place. I never wanted to be the source of resentment.
I know jealousy is just a part of being a sibling, at one time or another, and there were four of us. Being one of four in a family teaches you to wait your turn and to be patient and flexible.
I know that a lot of attention had to be given to me and my brother at certain times, and that couldn’t have been easy.
For me I can say it is comforting to no end to know there are at least two people in my life who accept me for me. I am just me to them. They know the little things about me, as I do them, good and bad. I feel a reassurance around my brother and sister that I do not get anywhere else. I have always been there for them and they for me and I hope that will never ever change.
My sister and I have real discussions about the things in life that really matter and that everyone goes through. She has helped me fit in with my surroundings and to feel like I am worth knowing and loving.
My brother, like he said, has always described anything visual in a way that I could understand, allowing me to enjoy such things like everyone else.
I hope I could have given them both even half of what they’ve given me.
No matter what, no matter what may happen, I know I will always have them, even if we go our own ways as adults and have our own lives.
To us, our childhoods were full of love, fun, and all the normal ups and downs that siblings have, but we did it all together and we have memories we will never forget and that have made us the people we are today.
Feeling a part of a family is something we all need. That is the first place we find acceptance and security. I hope we will always have each other to lean on.
Next Memoir Monday, for the
I will answer another question.
Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?
What is “normal” for you that you think might not be that way for someone else?
I hope you all have a pleasant week and I hope you all have family to lean on like I do.