January 1, 2008
SCHUYLER'S MONSTER: Making a New Kind of Family
Rob: Being in a family with a special needs family member, particularly a child, it's very difficult. It's very hard on a family, it's very hard on a marriage. The divorce rate amongst couples with a disabled child is incredibly high, it's very depressing. And it's... it's hard because I think when you're in a relationship, you know, sometimes when things are hard you want to have that person you can turn to. But when that person is also in that same situation, you think that that's an ideal situation. And you know what? Sometimes it's not, sometimes it's the opposite. Sometimes two people fighting the same demons, they just, you know, it's so hard to be sympathetic, so hard to get out of your own head and out of your own world. And it's very difficult for families.
I think for a family to make it work, for a family to work out the issues inherent in having a special needs child, I think the secret is you just have to take all the narrative that society's handed you, all the expectations, and you just have to blow them away, start with a clean slate. Because the rules for your family and the rules for your child are going to be completely new. They're going to be, they're going to be... You've got to find your way, you've got to find your way, because they're not going to apply to anyone else.
I can write this book. I've read a lot of books, and I'll continue to read books, by other special needs parents. But the thing that strikes me is how every one of these stories is different, every single person has a different reaction, every single person, every single family member has a different way of dealing with it.
And that's fine, that's the way it should be, but you've got to find your own way. Because the standard rules aren't going to help you, they're not going to help you at all. They're just going to make you feel bad, they're going to make you feel like you're doing it wrong. But you're NOT doing it wrong, you just have to find the right way, and no one else can tell you that but you.
So it's hard, it's hard to find that, but it's also very rewarding. I can't think of anything in my life that's challenged me more or has made me grow more as a person. So it's worth it. It's hard, but it's worth it.