Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

All They’ve Ever Known

A new week and I bring some new perspectives to the table.

Last week I wrote about school and work,

Here.

This week I return to the subject of family.

***

Q: Is your family life affected by disability? In what ways?

A:
I have shown the strength and character of my parents in past answers:

Literally,

Special Magnificence,

and

Diagnosis and Treatment.

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

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

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.

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15 thoughts on “All They’ve Ever Known

  1. You are fortunate to have such a warm and supporting family. They are fortunate to have you because you thought about whether your question would cause them any discomfort. Thank you for sharing this post.

  2. I like your brother’s answer that “life may have been different.” Sometimes large families tend to generate some selfishness among siblings probably just based on need for attention. You and your siblings seem to have risen above that. Thanks for sharing this pretty personal stuff, I’ve appreciated reading it.

  3. I am estranged from the majority of my own immediate family. A dynamic of abuse over generations has led to extremely difficult interactions.

    I hope that it may be different one day, but, for now, I focus on the family I’ve helped to create, and I hold as my highest purpose seeing that the abuse does not carry forward into my own children’s futures.

    I love the comments your siblings made. They were thoughtful and respectful. I love the idea of your sister helping you to find your place in the whole of the world, and the way your brother described things so that you could enjoy them, too..

    That is what family ought to be. ❤

    • Many cycles are repeated in families. It is a sad reality. It sounds like you were doing your part to make sure the past does not repeat itself with you. I am glad to hear you have found a family of your own. I know I am very lucky to have mine.

  4. Hi Kerry,

    It’s always a pleasure to read more about you and your family 🙂

    Yes, things are never easy in such cases, but with a supporting and loving family like yours, you come out as winners! I have a cousin who is also an epileptic and though it’s different, but one can see how much the family supports her and all that she wants to do.

    It’s a whole new world out there waiting to be explored – such disabilities are no reason to stop oneself I would say.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂

  5. Pingback: Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun | Her Headache

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