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Random Thoughts on a Random Day about being the Sib of a differently abled person.

I've been struggling to stay on task...seriously struggling...everything is frustrating me and I mean everything lol. I'm the type of service sub that hates disappointing my dominate, my Sir helps me to regulate my "to-do" list, as I struggle with a few executive function issues. He helps me stay grounded, he helps me say "no" to commitments that I really should say no to. I was raised to be a people pleaser, I was raised to put my own needs aside for the needs of others. (my mother raised her caregiver for herself and my sister...they are both ill and/or special needs) My amazing spouse saved me from that life, I'm not responsible for my mother or my sister...their disabilities and care needs are not mine to own. I am allowed to have a life outside of them. And I need to focus on the goals we've worked out together to reach the outcome that I want so badly. A college degree.

I belong to a community of adult "sibs" of special needs folks and one of the most common "vents" is that we were raised to be a caregiver for our sib. We are our parent's insurance plan or caregiver on tap. There is soooooo much resentment tied to this plan that our parents tried to/or have forced us into. I realized today, while scrolling through my Twitter feed, that while I support disabled activists, I don't find myself doing so with as much gusto or enthusiasm that I do for say size acceptance activists or LGBTQ activists. And at times, I find some of their requests to be whiny and demanding...much to my own personal chagrin. Instead of brushing that feeling off, I decided to sit with it a bit today and truly understand why I felt bothered. And it comes down to being a forced caregiver to a physically and developmentally challenged adult.  (and a forced caregiver to my now terminally ill mother)

There is this extreme level of emotional manipulation discussed often in the Sibnet community. If you don't agree to be the lifelong caregiver and personal slave, then you are a horrible, uncaring person. If you want to go to college, start your own family, and have a career...well then you better have a long-term plan to care for that differently abled sib of yours. (or how dare you want a life outside of caregiving for _____________? she needs you!) And sometimes, I see that emotional manipulation played out in Twitter...and it's rough to be honest, it makes me resent what the person is saying, even if I agree with the underlying message.

My relationship with my sister has reached a semi-balanced level at this point when it was made clear to me that I was to be her lifelong caregiver...I got pissed off...taking a teens dreams is wrong. Period. I developed a huge amount of hatred for my sister, that I buried and kept on keeping on. It wasn't until my sister was about 30, that we had a moment that helped us to connect on a personal level. I won't go into it, but it was her watershed moment, and she decided that she wanted out of my mother's house and out of her control. (that's a whole nuther post) I was 34 at that point, with 2 kids, and my Sir and I had nothing to lose by pissing off my mother. I threw myself into becoming my sister's biggest supporter for living on her own.

After two legal battles and much family drama, my sister won her independence (when my mother lost, my father made his bid...they see $$$ sister is on SSI).  She's living on her own now (she does not need a live-in caregiver, just a bit of drop in support), legal battle #3 won her control over her own finances (and she is fucking better at budgeting than I am!) and has been for about 8 years now and she's happy...I'm happy...our parents are miserable, control freaks who've lost their control.  We are still working on developing a "normal" sibling relationship, much of it has to do with me retraining my brain...and on her side, realizing when she's being manipulative. (OMG, the day program for "special needs" adults my mother put her were pretty much manipulation "how-to" camps...she and her peers learned to be master manipulators to get what they wanted!) We talk so much now about communication and consent and we do our best to practice it in our relationship.  I've gotten better at taking "That was ableist, do better" and she's gotten better at hearing "I refuse to be emotionally manipulated by you or anyone else, can you communicate that want/need in another way?"

I guess the gist of all this rambling is...emotional manipulation is wrong. It's wrong no matter who does it. If you have to resort to emotional manipulation to make others do things for've made an error in judgment. Communicate your needs/wants,  seek the consent of the person whose help you may need without emotionally manipulating them. I will do everything under the sun (just about) for my sister out of love, but nothing from a place of manipulation.

***Note, I have my sister's consent to speak of our situation and to express my own views of how it influenced my self-esteem and development as well. I do my best not to speak for her, but with her consent, will share some of her shared aloud thoughts and responses, I do my best to quote her. While she is not a blogger, honestly, she's not much a fan of the internet at all...she supports my need to process this shit and to come to a healthy place with it. At some point, we'd like to sit down and do a podcast about growing up from our perspective. We both have sought out therapy for our childhoods/teen/young adulthoods experiences.***


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