From the moment that Ben entered our lives more than 25 years ago, we have always felt a tinge of fear. By far, it is the number one issue we deal with on a regular basis … along with just about every family we’ve met who have been impacted by a disability.
It is the most common obstacle that holds people back and prevents them from living the life they dream of living, disability or not.
Fear has this knack for never really going away, simmering just below the surface.
No matter how strong you think you are, fear will take you down. It has a way of surrounding you and waging war with your mind.
It will cloud your view of the world and control your thoughts and behaviour.
By its very nature, it is designed to paralyze, attacking your confidence, your competence, your self-worth, and your energy.
Some families have shared with us that their biggest fear is that they will fail their children in some way.
Somewhere along the line it had become their job to coordinate and ensure their child receives the support they need since no one else is really on the hook. Because of that, they fear they’ll someday drop the ball, things will fall short, and it will be all their fault.
Others have told us that they worry about and fear that their child will stop progressing, and they have no control over that. Or that they are not doing enough to help them progress.
Some even feel completely trapped and are fearful that they will never experience joy again.
Over the years, one of my greatest fears was that Ben’s next seizure would be so debilitating that he would never come around, even die. Or, that either Jan or I would have something that would prevent us from being able to care for him. Or that one of us would die and leave the other with this tremendous burden.
By the way, that almost came true 10 years ago when I found out I had stage 2 colorectal cancer. It was quite by chance that I even discovered that anything was wrong.
There was no family history, no reason to suspect anything. In fact, I was in the “less than 5%” category of ever having to worry about it. But, nevertheless, it was true.
For the first time in my life, I was scared to death and scared of death.
There were times when I felt completely helpless and disconnected from my family. What would Jan do, I thought? Neither of us could care for Ben alone. Not only would it be physically impossible but financially, it would be really impossible.
It wasn’t until my daughter, Tori, told me quite matter-of-factly “to go get cured”, that I broke free of my downward spiral. This was after I mentioned that there was an 85% chance the treatment would rid my body of cancer.
If I needed a great motivator to keep living, well that was it. She believed I could do it. She believed that my current circumstances were not a predictor of what was to come.
I could have chosen to be fearful the whole time, where the spirit of negativity would be all consuming. Or I could choose to be wholly committed and energized by my treatment because I believed that it was going to cure me.
Of course, just because I chose to not be fearful didn’t mean it would instantly happen or that it was going to be easy. There is no denying it – fear causes real pain but the truth is none of us is called to be fearful.
Tori found something positive, and to be thankful for – the 85% statistic.
That is the antidote to every parent’s Kryptonite. Shift your focus away from the negative messages and look for all the positives. It will release you and give you greater power to adapt and cope.
Trust me … it works!
If you want to learn more coping strategies, download our guide to building your Coping Fitness!
-- Mike --