Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Family Of Choice

It's interesting over the last year how my support system has changed. I went from having my family of origin as my sole support to having people who have children with schizophrenia become my family. You see, generally I'm not someone who reaches out to people. Not even a little bit. In school, as a youngster, I had a very hard time socially so I walked into adulthood with little trust for others and their intentions. Here and there throughout my 20's I had a couple of friends but they put in the work on the friendship while I prayed that we would make it. They were truly gifts in my life because while I felt they had every reason to leave, they found every reason to stay.

Then last year I met Naomi Haskell. She and her son Spencer had been featured in an article in a large national newspaper telling their story of what it was like to live with schizophrenia and love someone with schizophrenia. As I read, I realized, they were telling my story. My heart instantly went out to Naomi and I began to try to find her. I wrote the author of the article via email and within less than a day I was in touch with Naomi. It happened so fast, like a bolt of lightening out of the blue and I finally felt like I had someone I knew who truly understood me and Thomas.

It wasn't long before she and I exchanged phone numbers and she called me. We talked forever about our lives and I grew to love her strong, open nature. She pulled no punches when it came to the truth about her life with Spencer and then also her own feelings about being a mom raising her son with schizophrenia. Through her strong, candid conversation with me she taught me that I wasn't alone, taught me that it was ok to be scared, to be angry and most importantly TO LAUGH. And laugh we did. With so much in common we became fast friends and I don't know what I would do without her now.

Then there was Stephannie. We found each other and became friends as her daughter and Thomas struggled side by side, but states apart with schizophrenia. Her daughter had been diagnosed just a month before Thomas and that tied us in a way that I had shared with no other. It seemed our journey as friends was meant to happen because our children simultaneously battled through the nasty first-year symptoms of schizophrenia. She and I don't talk much but when we do get in contact, we are instantly two parents who are one in a lot of ways. Her daughter is struggling so hard right now as Thomas seems to be leveling off and I feel like I am a mom, at her side, feeling what she must be feeling watching her daughter disappear. I do my best to help but I know, because the same goes for me, that there is little I can offer to help other than to offer up a chance to vent about the frustration and pain and even victories that her daughter fights through and she, as her mom, fights through herself. She and her daughter are Thomas and I's family and I'd do whatever I could to help her get through what she is going through now.

Then there is Lisa, Jennifer, Jannelle, Sam, and Debbie to name a few. All mothers with children with schizophrenia. We don't talk too much but they are family nonetheless. There is an unspoken connection there because we know that each of us alone, but often painfully together, fight the same demons that each other fights.

My point is this. These women have changed my life in ways I do not have words for. Each of them have been amazing support for me and it is my hope that I have had something to offer them in return. I have been unafraid to enter these friendships, unafraid to trust and in return have found something amazing. They say you are born into your family but that you get to CHOOSE your friends and that makes those people you choose so much better because it was an active decision born of shared lives (in our case that we have children with schizophrenia), shared pain, and most importantly shared happiness when there is a good day in our lives. These women, and so many more of you that I didn't mention but that are amazing support to me on this page, are my friends. We chose each other. In the end though, I consider them family and I see a beautiful future together as a family of choice, one that took each one of us to choose the other and discover what family really means.

I love you guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Most Popular Posts...

Follow my posts by Email:

Follow Me On Twitter