Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Double guilt complex

Meg Casey
September 7, 1983

Question; Dear Meg:

I've been having trouble writing this letter. Maybe because I have guilt feelings. I have an older brother who has not that well since birth. I love him dearly but sometimes I get so dejected because dejected because my parents, our home, are very lives revolve around him as does the planets and the sun. I am a rather good athlete and good student but never once have my parents been to a game or even asked the score. I’ve told them the scores but they've never asked about them unless I drop boulder-sized hints. I don't think they even know that I make the honor roll every time. As I said, I love my brother and my parents dearly. I just wish they would love me or even let me know that they know that I exist. How do I make them realize how I feel without sounding like a jealous sister?

A very lonely sister

Answer: Dear Little Sister,

Take heart friend. You have a right to receive your own social spotlight without feeling guilty about trying to upstage anyone else in your family. Plugging into the main power supply of your household should not lessen the deserved importance of the other acts on stage but assist in making up one of the Greatest Shows On Earth, a loving family unit.

It is unfortunate but not uncommon to hear the same problem been discussed among siblings of in-firmed or disabled people from many families. There are peer support groups set up to help kids, and other family members come to express those feelings and seek the appropriate solution to help themselves.

It may be necessary to reassess the strength of the energy voltage supplying and your family’s unit to ensure that the course you take doesn't overload and blow an already over-burdened circuit. It may be the matter of a simple rewiring job whereby a few words - like wires - become uncrossed through open communication, to allow more even distribution of the love flow.

Regardless of what takes, you are worth the effort and must believe in that. It may be necessary for you to drop one of those boulders on your parents feet to pin them down in order to get their full attention; but do it if you think the wards are what you want.

It may be necessary for all of you to go as a family to be helped through this time but you are not going to know one way or another unless you talk about it. Open those lines of communication with your brother. It could be he hates his getting all of the attention as much as you do but is fearful of sounding like an ungrateful child. That could be causing him to have a double guilt complex towards you as well as your parents.

For that matter your parents may suffer guilt feelings about their own inadequacies for handling the situation and have fallen into a routine and pattern because they’ve never known where else to go or what to do for their children. Talk to them. It isn’t easy to be a parent, to always do the right thing.

When one child becomes sick or hurt all concern centers there and all energy is expended toward making him better. Years and years of this expenditure takes its physical and emotional tolls on everyone. Free-flowing expression of feelings is the best medicine to take on its rehabilitative - ratings are astounding, keeping the stress factor minimum.

You’re taking a first step by writing to me. That was a heck of a public start. The next ones should be easier - Best of luck.

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originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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