To the ones who learned their sibling’s diagnosis before they learned how to spell.
To the ones who had more friends at the hospital than at the playground.
To the ones who knew how to tube feed before they knew their times tables.
To the ones who hate being the center of attention because it’s never been about you.
I’m talking to you because even though they try so hard, you’re often ignored. You don’t even realize it because take the back seat without even thinking about it. It’s just what you’ve always done.
When you’re little, you are expected to help without question. When you’re older, you’re expected to help without question.
And you do.
Not because you’re expected to, but because this is how you love. It’s hard to explain because it’s all you’ve ever known. You take care of people. It is the one role that you’ve always been confident in. Loving your sibling has a different definition for you.
Love means eating with a fork in one hand and a rag to wipe their chin in the other.
Love means changing a 20 year old’s diaper without cringing.
Love means knowing that when they hit you, they don’t really mean it.
Love means understanding why your parents can’t always be there.
Love means not needing them to be.
Love means I could go on and on.
But I think it’s time to talk about your worth.
You’re so important to your sibling, but that’s not the point.
Not because you have a special needs sibling.
You matter because of who you are.
I think somewhere along the way, you convinced yourself that you weren’t that important. You saw how much time and attention your sibling needed, you decided you were okay.
You are so selfless.
But in your selflessness, don’t lose yourself.
Don’t believe that you’re only valuable when you’re giving something to someone else.
I see you.
I know you.
I see how you clean up after everyone, so your Mom doesn’t have to worry about another thing.
I see you learning about sports so that your Dad has someone to watch games with.
I see how you sneak into your sibling’s room before you go to bed, just to check that they’re still breathing.And to see them so peaceful.
I know that you worry about how your other “normal” sibling will fare without you.
I see you taking care of everyone…all the time.
I know you don’t know what you’d do without your sibling.
I know you wonder what things would be like if you had a normal life.
I know you feel bad for even thinking about it.
I know you thank God every day that your sibling is alive.
I know you feel the weight of it all.
I know you want to escape it sometimes.
You feel that it’s not fair that you have the choice to escape and they don’t.
I know you feel like no one else your age gets how hard it is.
Or how grateful you are, but that you’re unsure of the future.
I know you wonder if they’ll be around in your future.
Feel it all.
Speak loud enough for someone to hear you.
Be the center of attention, for the five minutes that you can stand it.
Let someone see those vulnerable parts of you that you hid away when you were way too young and took it upon yourself to be the strong one.
It’s okay to let others see your weaknesses (seriously, it will be good for you.)
Call your parents back 10 times to tell them how your day was, even though you keep getting interrupted because your sibling is having a meltdown.
Go to college far away from home.
Major in something that has nothing to do with them…or everything. But you get to choose.
Skype your sibling just to have them close the computer on you.
Make friends who don’t know anything about why you wear that ‘M’ necklace.
Let some of them in and share the funny and hard parts that you’ve never told anyone else.
Finally learn how to be a kid in your 20’s.
Break a few rules.
Let someone take care of you.
I know how scary that is.
Let them show you the kind of love you give to everyone else.
Let it be new and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.
Live your life.
I wish I could convince you that it will be okay.
But because I know you, all I can say is this:
Thank you. I see you.
Now, go be you.
You’re amazing at being *fill in the blank*’s sibling.
But being their sibling is just a part of who you are
Even though it can feel like it’s everything you are.
Learn what it means to be you, on your own.
They were the first ones who taught you about unconditional love.
Try to love others…less intensely.
Cry when you don’t know how to do that and you finally feel taken for granted.
Then love again with all you are.
Because as much as they gave to you,
you have so much to give on your own.
They call you the normal one just because you’re healthy.
You’re so far from normal.
You are extraordinary.
No one else could do what you do.
Now, go live.
Even if your sibling doesn’t or can’t.
You were blessed with your own life.
Make them proud.
Make yourself proud.
You deserve the world.