Do you have a safe person? I wasn’t familiar with the term, until I read “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid” by Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian. According to the authors, a safe person is the one who:
“Allows you to be confused and crazy”
“Listens to you, hears you, and encourages you to keep talking”
“Is clear, direct, and honest with you”
“Listens to you for as long as it takes”
I am so lucky that I do have a safe person. Tia. Tia and I have been friends since we were 12 years old. We have survived junior high, high school, her going to college at 18 and me going to college at 30. We have been together thru boyfriends and husbands. We have listened to one another, fought with one another and loved one another thru our lives ups and downs. Heck, we survived turning 40 together!
Although we have not lived near one another since juniors in high school, she has been my best friend, my therapist and my rock.
Everyone needs a safe person. A mom with a special needs child needs one more than ever. As much as I love and admire my husband, he cannot be Tia. Tia has listened to me brag about Allie. That first child where you proclaim their greatness. I have listened (I hope) to her rightfully brag about her wonderful son.
When Boo was born, Tia was the one person I could count on to listen and not always advise. She let me find my own voice and encouraged me to be Boo’s advocate. When I wanted to walk in the NSTAR Walk for Children’s Hospital in thanks for the care Boo received, Tia was the first one to join my team. She has made it every year since.
What I love most about Tia is that not only was she the first one accept Boo for who she is, Tia always seems to say or ask the right things. When I was freaking about Boo’s surgery, Tia reined me in. She also knows when to pour the wine and when to just hand over the bottle.
The best thing? Your safe person will also lean on you. Tia doesn’t hold back because she thinks I am under too much stress. She knows that I need to be more than Boo’s advocate. I have to be me.
Because of distance, we only see one another a couple of times a year. Unfairly, she has to travel to see me more than I can travel to see her. Being a safe person doesn’t mean you have to live close geographically. You just have to be close at heart. And have access to text and e-mail.
My wish for you, reading this blog, is that you have a safe person. If you do not have one, I wish for you to find one. That, at it’s core, is what I believe the 31 for 21 is about. Knowing that you have a community of support. One that listens, never judges, provides worthwhile advice that you can take or leave. Your child doesn’t have to have Down Syndrome. You just have to be there for another parent.
My wish for you is to find a Tia and hold on tight.