The other day my husband came to me and spoke a sentence that’s been bouncing around my brain for a number of days now. He was worried about my stress levels and said, without any malace or ill intention, “you need to come back to the real world for a bit”. What did he mean? Simply that I had been engulfed by the world of disabilities and additional needs. That i was drowning in paperwork and had endless lists of phone calls. That I had yet another appeal on the go with the department for work and pensions. And I simply replied, “this is my real world now”.
After chatting it through I realised that he just meant I should try and give myself a break. Take a gym class, take a stroll through town or go for a coffee with a friend who isn’t involved in the same dilemmas I face every day. And after a while I realised what a strange concept that actually was.
The world of SEND and the “real world” are like two separate universes. They run alongside each other and more often than not you’re not even aware that the SEND universe exists until the door opens and you step into (I’m sorry, you are hurtled into at light speed via the means of a letter or one sentence spoken by a professional) a completely different world that was there all along. You were just blissfully unaware.
It’s just like The Matrix. A film about two different worlds, where people are fooled by artificial intelligence that theyre safe, secure and in control whereas the world they actually live in is pretty dark and sinister. A fact from which you remain blissfully unaware until some dude in a long coat tells you that actually, it’s not where you should be living at all.
So this begs the question. Am I living in the real world? Or have I been fooled into thinking life is something it shouldn’t be?
I’ve pondered this for a couple of days now and I still don’t know the answer. But I know that in my current reality it can be really hard to have a break, and even harder to step back into the SEND world after some space from it. It’s like being teased. You finally find some time to be “normal” but when that time comes to a close you realise you’ve just been living in a dream world for the last couple of hours and it’s time to put your big girl (or boy) shoes on and dive straight back into the real world. Why do I call the world of SEND real? Because it’s cruel. It’s relentless. And more often than not people use the phrase “welcome to the real world” when times are hard and you’re searching for solice (incidentally the real world in The Matrix is pretty grim as well).
So when my husband said “you need to come back to the real world” I think actually I need to do the opposite now and again. And run as far away from the real world as I possibly can so that my sanity stays in check.
That way I will have the focus and energy to enjoy the time I have with my son so much more.
Thanks for reading,