“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.