If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:10
Ryan traveled out of town over the weekend to help my mom move from Florida to Michigan. This out-of-town traveling became a regular occurrence when we lived in Tennessee as he went to Michigan to prep our land for a house build or worked on a flip house he had purchased in another city. Since our move to Michigan two years ago, he has not had to go out of town, and it’s been really nice. When we lived in Tennessee, my anxiety would rise days before he had to leave, and in true coping style, after he left, I cleaned the house, made trips to Goodwill, played games with the kids, and worked late into the night. Productivity is a trauma response (and my go-to for sure!), and this response was in full bloom whenever I was solo parenting.
There is something about being the only one responsible for all 8 children and a son who was profoundly disabled that feels like a massive load to carry alone, and when we lived in TN we had very few people to rely on. We were strangers, and we lived in a rural town. I was a blunt midwesterner, and often people weren’t really sure what to make of me and my funny accent. When Ryan left, I felt alone and like the whole world (or at least my little world) was on my shoulders.
This was a big reason we moved back to my home state. We were desperate for community and traded in the sunshine, sweet tea, and isolation for snow shovels, breweries, and our tribe.
It was a good move.
This past weekend was extremely busy, personally, as a single mom, and professionally. I was the keynote speaker for an event and scheduled to share information about The Lucas Project at church on Sunday – both services – with the kids in tow – and Luke. A couple of my close friends knew I was feeling overwhelmed and offered to help in any way. In the past, I probably would have resorted to my pat answer, “I’m fine” but not this time. As the anxiety continued to rise, I accepted the help. I let people enter into the chaos with me, and it was a gift to feel loved by my community.
We made the right move by trading in our sunshine experience for a tribal one – even a tribal one that resides in snow most of the time 😉 I feel seen and cared for here, and there is no amount of sunshine that can rival the feeling of true community.
I know many special needs families find their communities online and yes, it’s a form of community, but nothing can replace real-life people stepping in and helping out when necessary. If you don’t currently have this in your life (even if you’re not part of a special needs family!) you need to search for it as your life depends on it. You might even have to move, but find it, please. It might just be the thing that saves you.
Just keep livin.