“But I can’t do it, Mummy! It’s too hard.” I tried to reassure Johnathan that it wasn’t too hard and that he could do it. We would do it together. Then he responded with “But I can’t do it at home.” Eventually, he agreed to do the next time with me.
And you know what? This is like you and me. I am sure there are times that we think things are too hard and difficult for us to do. And we turn out to be right. What we say we can’t do, we don’t. We give up. And this is true for all of us.
But things can be different.
You don’t have to do it alone. Someone else can help you get things you need to be done, done. You don’t have to know everything. In fact, even if you were the biggest genius in the world, you still wouldn’t.
Now that’s not to say that everybody can do everything that somebody else does. I love the fact that we are all born with gifts and talents that we can share with the world. But you can perceive tasks and jobs in front of you as “too difficult” or “too hard” and just give up.
Now you have two choices in front of you.
Do you want to ask somebody for help and see things in a different way? Or are you just giving up?
One of the values in the new school Johnathan is going to is teaching children how to try and not give up. Sometimes you can do it yourself, while other times you do it with someone else. Of course, if it’s not what you have a talent for you will find it more difficult but with help and support, you can achieve.
So are you giving up? Or are you going to ask for help and achieve?
People often ask Kevin and me how we cope as a married couple. Well, there are a couple of things that I would like you to recognise to start with.
Disability doesn’t make it impossible for you to live a married life. In fact, from a very young age, I had realised that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with a fully able person. So if I was going to marry it would be to a disabled person.
Marriage is a very important part of life and both Kevin and I took the sacrament of marriage very seriously. This is not something to be taken lightly. When you say the wedding vows some of the words you promise each other are “in sickness and in health” and we meant the vows when we said them.
I suppose in one sense, there was a difference to being fully fit and able to do anything and everything because we were already disabled.
Actually, when we first met we spent time describing our conditions and how they might/would impact our lives. We also discussed with each other what they could mean if we ever wanted to have a friendship. Yes, it does impact the two of us and our lives together. We didn’t stop talking about it through the days that followed.
In fact, the good thing is that we have never really stopped talking about it.
Being A Team
We wake up with different problems because of the conditions we have and we never know exactly what the other one can do until they have moved around a bit. However, now that we have been married ten years we now (generally) recognise when the other one is feeling more tired or sorer and you help them. It creates a different atmosphere in the house when we help each other. We also try to look at things in a positive light because when you’re ill if you’re thinking negatively, the pain becomes that much more intense.
I think also, it makes life easier because Kevin and I work together as a team. Generally speaking, what one can do, the other generally can’t or finds it difficult to do. Sometimes we actually do jobs together. There are some things neither of us can do and then we have to ask friends or carers to help us in those situations.
Supporting Each Other Through Loss
Just like anyone else, we care about the six pregnancy losses we have had. Both of us have discovered that on days I am struggling with the loss and suffering Kevin is having a good day about it and he encourages me and vice versa. Yes, losing that many babies is a hell I would never want to put people through but we get through everything together and that is the key.
We also are Catholics and although we don’t always get to Mass, we do rely on God. and I feel that we have got through our pregnancy losses difficulties and kept our relationship together not only because we trust God but we are honest and truthful with each other. We discuss whatever issues are there in our family life and come to solutions as a team. And it’s amazing what we can actually accomplish.
Obviously, we have difficulties that you most likely don’t have. But, let me tell you, it makes no difference. Like you, there are issues that come up that need to be solved. Sometimes we actually come up with some creative solutions to problems that we know we are going to face.
Facing life together is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I have a partner who shares my life and I have learnt the delight of this.
We didn’t know if we could even have children when we married and looked at fostering and adoption. I wanted to stay home and look after the family rather than going out to work. I want people/children to know there is a life after abuse and you can find happiness again. Every day, I/we look for the silver lining in the cloud that surrounds me/us. There is always something to be grateful for.
As you are probably aware, meeting the prospective in-laws is quite a daunting prospect. And you never know if you will get on with them or not. Also if you will have any shared interests or not. It is great to think that everything will be ok, but as you know, that can often be unrealistic because you are meeting new people with no concept of what to expect.
Adjusting to My New Life
Because I had left my old life behind me when I moved up to Scotland, I decided to get my name changed legally. So they weren’t even sure what name to call me by! They had the name I had chosen for the site on which I met Kevin, my old name and now my new name. How confused they must have felt. Honestly, I don’t envy them at all. When your child (even if they are an adult) meets someone they might be interested in marrying, you worry. And when that child is disabled, the fear is greatly magnified.
Having only been in Scotland for less than six months I still wasn’t very sure of myself at the time. When I moved I discovered that I couldn’t remember my past. My previous life was just a blank. It was something that happened, but what it was I literally had no idea. This seemed really strange to me, but I just added it to the things I didn’t understand from the past and tried to move on.
My Buffer with My In-Laws
So here we were meeting with all of us being uncertain and fearful except my husband. He was relaxed and totally prepared to deal with anything that came up between his parents and I. At one point my future father-in-law said that he had ordered the pork with the messages. I sat there completely mystified as to haw a telephone message had combined with pork.
Kevin saw that I was confused and explained to me that messages was shopping. Oh! Now that made sense. There have been so many words that I have encountered here in Scotland and have confused me, because they mean something completely different to what I have known all my life.
I noticed that my mother-in-law was quite shaky as she handed out what she called “white meat” sandwiches. She didn’t know what to call me and wasn’t sure how to take me. I must admit, I probably was not what she wanted for her son. They had brought him up and cared for him and suddenly he wanted to bring another person into their lives that he might even marry.
Then & Now
It has taken me many years to understand my in-laws. I am not naturally a patient person, but I am interested in other people. Now my mother-in-law and I get on pretty well. She has an understanding of crafts that I have no concept of and we now get on pretty well and talk to each other via imessage almost every day now.
From fear and trepidation on each side to a pretty good relationship with my mother-in-law has been a great transformation. It can be made possible that you can build a good relationship with your mother-in-law. So don’t look at relationships as being impossible to do, try and find and create them with people who have some different interests to yours as well as some similar ones. You will learn new things and some things will really surprise you.
I guess I can’t tell you about myself without talking about my dog, Maisie. Other than Kevin and Johnathan, she is the most important thing to me. And our affection is mutual – even if she does think she should take precedence over Johnathan at times. She has a space next to me on my chair, while Johnathan gets the space on my lap. But sometimes she tries to sneak in anyway.
Yearning for A Puppy
For many years I had always wanted a dog of my own. I believe it was from a very young age. At least, I can’t remember NOT wanting a dog. So I think I would say, pretty much I always did. In fact, I nearly got one before I moved to Scotland. I loved the Pomeranian dogs, as they are so small and so friendly and actually went and put a deposit down on a puppy. However, on consideration, I decided that it would be too much upheaval to have two animals to look after and drive them over 400 miles. And I know now that I made the right decision. Having a cat yowling in my car the whole journey was more than enough!
When I was in England one of the dogs we had in the family was called Sandy and everyone told me she was my dog and I had to feed her and look after her but she actually never felt like she was my dog. Sandy suffered from arthritis and could be quite irritable at times. I didn’t know how to play with a dog or get comfort from them and that really didn’t help me bond with her.
Finding the Right Time to Get A Puppy
So I had an unfulfilled longing for a dog. Kevin had promised that once we were in a suitable property we could get one. A dog needed to have space and our disabilities meant we had to be in a property where we could just shove her out of the door into a garden. So once we were moved into this place we live in right now, I knew I could go and get a dog as we had an enclosed garden and we could just put the dog outside. Of course, I would go out with the dog when it was tiny but later let them out by themselves. Of course, I wanted to get a Pomeranian because they hold a little place in my heart.
From our journeys around Scotland seeing the beautiful countryside, we knew that the breeder Kevin had got his two Burmese cats now bred Pomeranians and also showed some of them. As this was the breed of dog I wished to obtain, to start with I contacted her. I knew that I wanted a dog to help my emotional stability as well as a companion and friend.
Finding the Right Puppy
The breeder said that she didn’t feel a Pomeranian would be of benefit to me. Apparently, their legs are very fragile and break easily so you cannot get insurance for them. And we had a 15-month-old boy at the time as well. Would that really be the right breed for us?
Unfortunately, I had to agree with her when she told me this. Then she asked me if I would consider a Cavachon. They are good with children and very friendly, not needing a lot of exercise and she had two left from the last litter. So we went to see the two of them.
She had thought the more lively one would be suitable for us and she instantly came running up to see us, but Johnathan screamed and wriggled back as quickly as he could, so I knew that puppy wouldn’t work for us. The other puppy slowly came closer to him and was just gently sniffing his foot. That he was happy with. So I knew which puppy suited us and was grateful I had brought Kevin and Johnathan with me to make the choice.
Let me tell you something. I am so grateful to have this dog to help calm and settle me. She has been the best thing ever for me. She loves hugs and sleeping next to me. But the fact is, although she is much livelier than we would have chosen, she is still an integral part of our lives.
A Dog Loves What A Dog Loves
The funny thing is, I never agreed with putting clothes on a dog. I thought it was simply a gimmick and a way to make dog owners pay more money on their companions. Maisie is generally a very noisy dog but last year when she returned from the groomers near Halloween she was wearing a wee jacket. And she was much quieter. Literally, we were kind of looking for her to bark as usual but it really calmed her down.
So now I have a little dog who wears clothes and if she’s going to wear them, they’re going to be accurate to the season. It is so weird but she absolutely loves it! When she has been brushed, or come back from a walk, she can barely wait to get back into her clothes. Not what I wanted, but is obviously exactly what she needed.