“I resent my sister”. “I resent my brother”.
You might be thinking to yourself how could anyone ever think or say that about their sibling with DS, but it’s quite easy to get to such a place…quite easy. The truth is, if you are not careful, you will end up saying these words.
You wake up one day and you’re 30 years old. You are not married. You have no kids. Your relationships are toxic. All you do is work at a 9 to 5 that you hate and in relation to the two or three actual friends that you have, you barely go out, thus making your social life just about non-existent. You stop and think, “What the heck is really going on here”? “What has happened to my life?” You are nowhere that you thought you would have been by now. When you pictured your life as a child, it looked nothing like this. All you do is work and pay bills. When you look at things, more time is spent on worrying about your sibling and advocating for your sibling than you spend on yourself. You realize that most of your decisions were based on what would be best for your sibling and not for you.
Back then, when the thought of you going to another country to study came up, you told yourself that you couldn’t leave your sibling behind. Whether it was guilt, fear that your sibling would feel that you abandoned them, fear that your parents and other family members just did not know how to take care of your sibling properly, whatever the reason…you talked yourself out of it. When the thought of migrating to another country to work and live came up those fears once again arose, and you talked yourself out of it. You probably had some bad experiences dating persons who were not accepting of the fact that you might end up as primary caregiver for your sibling and so relationships for you have either become non-existent or a real mess…after all, who wants to hear that the person that they love wants nothing to do with their brother or sister? When the thought entered your mind to buy your own home or to have children, you worried about the financial consequences…how were you going to financially manage a home, kids plus your sibling especially after your parents passed?
All Your Unhappiness Must be Your Sibling’s Fault, Right?
Your life sucks. All your time and effort was spent on your sibling. It’s their fault. They must be the reason you have no life or why your life is so hard, right?
But are they? Are they really? Let’s look at what really happened here:
- Did your parents put you in a position that made you feel like you had to be a parent to your sibling, even before your parents passed on? If this is so, then your parents dropped the ball here. They should have ensured that during your teenage and young adult life, you got the chance to build a solid foundation for yourself and you got to live your life and discover who you are as a person.
- Did you really have to stay when those opportunities for study and work came up? Well, maybe when the first opportunity came up you really weren’t in a position to take it. But what about the second or third? Did you not see that you had to change things to ensure that if you are not around your sibling would still be ok? How different is this from what your parents did? Your parents did not have a plan, they probably became overwhelmed and gave up and pretended that they would outlive their child. You know, we tend to blame our parents for all the things that they did wrong and yes, they did many things wrong. But how different are you from them? If you are in a position where you believe that you are the only one that can properly care for your sibling, then you are just like your parents…you do not have a plan. Chances are you are going to die before your sibling? So, what’s the plan?
- Your relationships are your choice…toxic or not. Why are you choosing these persons who continue to reject you or use you? This issue is an inside job…this has to do with how you see yourself. Whilst having a sibling with DS may not afford you much personal time, when you do get out, make smart choices. Adding relationship stress to the stress of being a caregiver is a recipe for disaster.
- If you want to buy the home and have kids, then plan accordingly and do so. You have one life to live. No regrets is the aim here.
Accept Your Reality, Then Choose Your Destiny
Yes, you have a sibling with DS. Accept it. To whatever extent you are the caregiver, accept it. I am the caregiver for my sibling. I can’t pretend otherwise. Does this mean I have no life? Of course not! Find a way to live your life. Stop wishing you didn’t have a sibling who has DS…you already do. Stop wishing your parents had done a better job and had put things in place…well they didn’t. It’s on you now. Unfair? Yes. Does that change the fact that it’s on you? No.
Get help. Seek counselling. Get help from family and friends. Honey, this is your life (all the craziness included). If it were up to you, you would probably change it…but you can’t change what already is…and I know it’s hard…I won’t take that from you…it’s tough. Just ask yourself, what’s the point of wishing it wasn’t so hard? It is. Now, do your best with the hand that you were dealt. Remember…you are not alone. Hug, hugs and more hugs.
You are right. We all have this issue with our siblings. But we must face our responsibilities and take the time to find out what’s wrong with us and fix it. We shouldn’t blame our siblings for everything that’s got wrong in our lives. If we don’t like our jobs, let’s find another one. If we are in a toxic Relationship, let’s get out of it. Our siblings have Nothing to do with our destiny. Just us and our power of decision
Well said angelce903. Well said.
I really enjoyed reading this post. It wasn’t until recently that I began to realize how difficult sibling relationships can be as we get older. Your post really helped me to put things in perspective. Like with so many situations in our lives, it is important to look inward before pointing the finger outward. This was a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much.
Indeed, sibling relationships can become difficult as we age (disability or not) but it helps to know that we can positively make a change by looking inward first. I am so happy this article helped you.
I hope you stop by HappyDowns again soon.
Beautiful article. Perhaps my saying “beautiful article” is a bit out of place because the article describes the pain and the frustration of having to deal with a sibling with DS. The person needs to pull up every bit of energy and optimism to pull through because the person is going to be a caregiver to the sibling throughout his or her life. It is nobody’s fault. And like you say one cannot change what already is.
I think it’s a beautiful article as well…your choice of words is quite okay. Yes, we must accept our reality and then choose our destiny…choose how to face life and the steps we’ll take to make the best of our lives.
It’s really interesting how this type of thinking can apply to almost anyone’s situation. I see how it’s especially important when caring for a sibling with a disability, but in general I think many people find themselves living lives that are not fulfilling and wanting to blame it on the people who gave them those circumstances. You are totally right that this type of thinking is toxic and doesn’t help anything. It’s better to take responsibility for your own choices and decisions that lead you to where you are. Thanks for the insight.
I am so happy that you pointed out how this article applies to everyone (disability or not). We are indeed responsible for our own choices and decisions. We are responsible for our own happiness.
This really hit home for me on such a personal level, here’s why: I was, and even through adulthood, still am the ‘special needs’ sibling of the family. Much different and less severe than DS, I was diagnosed with a few mental disorders, including: Severe ADHD as a child. It was 20 years before I was completely rediagnosed as having Broad Spectrum Autism which is still poorly misunderstood. I have never heard that side of the story before because I’ve always been on the Spectrum side needing constant help through my whole life and the decisions of my family where largely dictated around my needs in the form of financial and motivational help. I always felt like I never could “Grow Up”. Your perspective and side of it helps bring me a new level of understanding of what my family has gone through. I can honestly say, I really did enjoy reading this and feel I have gained a better understanding of the whole picture. I look forward to reading more from you!
Wow Tim! You have made my day! I never expected to get feedback from a sibling with special needs…feedback from your side of the situation…and to hear that it has helped you to see the side of your family members and that you enjoyed reading the post makes me so happy. I am so glad that you took the time to visit HappyDowns and I really hope you will stop by from time to time to read other posts and just to give your point of view.
I can relate to this post, you have made a lot of sense of my childhood:)
I had to look after my younger sister and take her to school and yes i missed out on alot of my childhood , but i really didn’t mind until i look back now and just wonder what i could have made of my life ? could i have worked harder at school(maybe) if i didn’t have the responsibilities.
I don’t resent my sister or do i? reading your post has opened my eyes up to alot of issues that i havn’t really thought about my childhood until now.
You’re welcome 🙂 I am happy that this post has opened up your mind to look at things in a new way. I also hope that at the end of your inward assessment, you will see that we as siblings…even though we are caregivers…still have the power to choose the life that we want.