Today I got this message from a woman in a special needs group:
“Just listened. This podcast shook me to my core and brought me right back to 9 years ago. Please send a message to Cassie, thanking her for her honesty. Everything she said I felt, I thought I was the only one. Our stories are very very similar. I am a nurse, I had a boy who was born at 34 weeks and suffered a severe brain injury rate for his gestation. My son is 9 now so we have come a long way but I don’t think I could articulate things as well as Cassie. So amazing. Thank you Tessa Prebble for this incredible show. And thank you Cassie and Thomas for sharing.”
When I started this project, this was the message I was thinking of. I wanted someone to feel that. The “Everything she said I felt, I thought I was the only one.” That’s why I’m doing this.
I know Cassie had some nerves about releasing her episode. I did too. I knew it spoke very closely to some of my own thoughts and feelings, and I was confident there were others out there too who had felt the same way, but it’s not something that is often given a voice. Those of us who felt it usually move on to a happier place and we find it hard to acknowledge those early thoughts. We pretend it’s always been good, instead of remembering the darker thoughts and feelings that overcame us to begin with.
These stories aren’t told. Instead, we hear about the willfully positive parents, or the ones who have come to accept their new life and ignore the earlier struggles. When we don’t hear those stories, the reality, the truth for some people, it feels even harder to be living in it. We feel, as Cassie said in her episode, like “a monster”.
This message proves to me that these stories have value and resonance with other parents. If we can continue to tell these stories, bring them out from their hiding places, shed light on the good and the bad of this kind of parenting, maybe we will all feel less alone and those feelings of isolation and desperation will be less common in those early stages. And if they are still there, because as Cassie said, it’s a process, we will know we are not the first to go through them and there is a community of people out there feeling just like them who have their back.
Basically, this message put to bed any fears I had about releasing the honest, sometimes brutally so, stories because they are important and necessary and true. It made me realise that we might get some backlash, but that the risk of that is worth it if one parent like this one feels this way when they hear it.
Thank you to Cassie and Thomas and your family, and Jen and Jacob, and your family, for agreeing to be the first two episodes of this project. You signed up to be first before you had even heard whether I could pull this off, and I will be forever grateful for your leap of faith.