This is probably the most common compliment I hear: about how strong I am, how other people couldn't do what I do.
Although I know it comes from a place of admiration and encouragement, it ends up leaving me feeling isolated. I don't think I'm particularly strong and I don't think I'm particularly unusual.
I'm dealing with what I have to deal with. Just like parents all over the world. My particular road may have knocked my illusions out of me fairly quickly, but I'm not unique. Even leaving aside the struggles of parents in war zones, famine zones and epidemic zones, there are lots of parents who are dealing with horribly unfair and difficult situations.
The act of shoving someone on a pedestal creates distance. It becomes easier to ignore their need for help because the situation seems so alien or because acknowledging it would shatter the illusion of their superiority. It makes it harder to offer help because surely it would not be as good as what they are already doing. By insisting that their situation is unique, it makes it harder for them to reach out and connect. And harder for them to admit when things are not going well.
I'll be the first to admit that I have plenty of room for improvement. That I have days where I lose the struggle to do what I have to do. I try to be gentle with myself, recognizing that I'm human and have limits and that cleaning up BMs for over a decade was not the deal I signed up for. There are days I'm furious with the universe. There are days where I am so numb it feels like nothing can get through.
There are many ways in which my life is harder than it needs to be. If autism treatments were covered by OHIP, our family would not be struggling financially. If there was a comprehensive list of services, I wouldn't have to spend days, weeks and months doing research to try and discover what is available. If charities weren't so concerned with looking bad, they wouldn't need to put income caps on their help and we could qualify for grants and assistance. If we had a better understanding of how to treat autism rather than a bunch of blame-sayers, I wouldn't be in the position of constantly designing and running my own best-guess treatments.
I should be able to spend my time and energy on helping my sons with what they need, rather than jumping through hoops to prove myself worthy to the outside world.