Looking back 12 years, I adored our family of four. We had two happy, silly, lovable boys who were just beginning preschool and kindergarten. My partner, Steve, and I were starting to feel like real adults, with jobs and kids and a house to take care of. Life was complicated but beautiful. Our son, David, had a disability, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, which meant he needed to be fed, diapered, and assisted with most activities.
It seemed like there was always someone who needed my attention. I wanted to give each of my boys—my sons and my husband—what they needed, but that required more time and energy than I had. So I defaulted to my old strategy of setting myself aside.
In our little family, denying my needs and wants meant there was one less complicating factor to manage. Plus, I reminded myself that I was doing a good thing by loving and serving others. I felt confident that this would not only make my boys happy, but it would also fill my heart and make me happy. Best of all, if everyone was happy, I would be okay. I would be enough. I would be lovable. Deep down, that's what I really wanted—to be loved.
Although we had finally found our way into a new normal, I felt...