I have recently been presenting workshops for Carers of people with disabilities. These interactive workshops are very casual, yet it amazes me that a large group of people can sit in a room and listen to someone speak for a couple of hours, then get up and leave without connecting with anyone else! However, when you ask people to introduce themselves and actually include everyone in the process of the workshop, the chatter with new friends in incessant!
There is a section where attendees can discuss their fears around their loved ones with a disability. They then have to come up with something to remove that fear. The astonishing thing about this exercise is that when people start discussing their fears, they realise they all have the same fears! And right up until this point - they thought they were the only ones, that they were weak or crazy for having such fears! All of a sudden a huge weight is lifted, as they realise they are normal and like everyone else. I don't believe there is anything more healing for the soul than to realise you are not alone on your journey and there are people like you that are willing to walk beside you.
The most important thing about a Community is talking to each other and finding out we are much more alike than different. I have previously spoken about becoming part of a greater local Community, but you should never underestimate the importance of becoming a part of our disability Community. I like to see this Community as my Tribe. My tribe does not have to have a loved one with Down syndrome, they just have to have a loved one with a disability to be able to connect with me on a very different level to someone who has never walked this path. These are the people I don't need to have my 'happy face' painted on for. These are the people who really GET IT when I say I just want to run away.
These are the people who are the wind beneath my wings. They help me fly, as well as allow me to grieve and even throw a tantrum.