I remember a time when a friend (who is very happily married to her Mr. Forever with two healthy thriving children) sent me a message saying, “I wish I had your life”. I sat there, bemused, wondering what I was portraying about my life on social media that made it seem so appealing to her? I was a single mum, living with my parents, unable to work due to my daughter’s disabilities and needs, my days consumed with therapy and pureeing food to put down her feeding tube. I’d been very transparent on social media about my journey, sharing the good, the tragic, the bad and the ugly. So what was it about my experience that made her want to jump ship?  

We’ve become so conditioned to prance around under a façade of perfection on social media, abusing the ability to pick and choose what a previously inaccessible wider audience sees about our lives. All too often we only witness the moments where the house is tidy, the face beautified with BB cream, the lighting perfect (*insert filter), children clothed in their fresh new kicks smiling for the camera, convincing the audience that we’ve totally got our shit together.  

I’ve had lots of conversations with my coaching clients about this recently – Mamas who believe that life is peachier in the other square on social media. I’m supporting Mamas who are struggling to immerse themselves in their realities. Mamas who want what someone else has got. Mamas who are experiencing feelings of jealousy, envy, anger, unworthiness and feeling sorry for themselves because their lives don’t replicate what they see on those little squares that capture a moment in a time. Mamas who love and value their children, but are smothered in a grief too heavy to bear, sleep deprived and isolated, wishing for things to be a little different.

When asked, “What does different look like?” every one of them told me it looks like their friends’ lives on social media. Where neurodiversity doesn’t exist and they can attend parties, play weekend sport, go to out for dinner, let their children have sleepovers and attend mainstream schools. The conversations have ben heart felt and challenging but I’ve been called to support them to bring awareness to a higher understanding of truth.  

Behind the instant click of the camera shutter realities are often vastly different. Behind the perfected image there are a million stories we’re not aware of. People are experiencing challenges we don’t see, heartache we don’t feel, and tragedies we don’t hear about it. What others decide to let us view through the little square is far from the ‘perfect’ we choose to believe is their reality.

What triggers these feelings of dis-ease? What’s causing us to believe that someone else’s life is better than our own?

Deep inside our unaddressed emotional truth spews over the edges and tarnishes our perception of reality. Suppressed inner hurt, grief, sadness and the trauma of raising a child with additional needs presents itself as life dissatisfaction and elimination of joy. Lack of self-awareness and a failure to process the underlying emotional truth influences our ability to accept our journey. Resistance becomes the lived experience, and resistance is a journey to suffering. We lack the time, energy and resources to slow down and embody the unexpected diagnosis that catapulted life into a whirlwind of medical appointments and scary moments. The depth of negative emotions so challenging we choose to avoid, escape and resist them. Resentment and jealously rear their ugly head in the face of resistance and we dodge the emotional train wreck that we’re just too tired to deal with.

But it’s not our situation that disrupts our experience of joy; it is our perception about it. When we turn our backs on the emotional truth rather than embody the grief, hurt and trauma, we’re not fully immersing ourselves in the moment. And while we’re resisting the emotional truth we’re not able to see the light in the dark. It is resistance to what is that causes suffering, not the pain itself. When we choose to let the emotional truth surface, let go of expectations and fully immerse ourselves in the present moment, we can start to shed the weighted darkness of resistance to free ourselves of this internal suffering.

There is so much joy to be experienced as a special needs parent. At a speaking event yesterday morning I spoke with many special needs mums about how much more we get to celebrate. Otherwise ‘expected’ developmental milestones in neurotypical children become a cause for morning jigs in the bathroom when your 7 year old learns to wipe their own bum. You jump for joy when your 10-year put their seatbelt on independently. You shoot “Woohoo!” when your 15 year old learns to wash their hair. You cry a flood of tears when your 4 year old walks for the first time unassisted. The mundane becomes cause for celebration when you choose to see the power in acceptance, and gratitude for what is.

My friend didn’t want to be a solo unemployed special needs mum, sleeping in a single bed next to her disabled daughter in her parents’ home. What she saw in my raw representation of my experience on social media was a woman who wasn’t afraid to stand in her truth. She valued my ability to accept my journey. She loved that I was so open and willing to tell my story. She was inspired by my ability to focus on the possibilities and celebrate the mundane, despite the adversity I was living. She was mindful of the fact that I chose to live fully in the moment and embrace every opportunity. She recognised that I made a conscious effort to find something to be grateful for in the challenges so I wouldn’t drown in the darkness.

My friend didn’t want my life – she was attracted to my perception on living. And when I told her that my perception was my choice, she realised she could create the same reality for herself.

We have a choice in every moment to immerse ourselves in the reality of our lived experience, to embrace and accept it with open arms and be willing to step in to it with a courageous heart. We can overcome adversity by changing our beliefs about it. When we stop resisting what is happening and accept all the things we cannot change, we empower ourselves to shift our perspective, expand our mindset, and step into our true potential for the experience of joy, despite adversity.  

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment

— Eckhart Tolle



Tanya Savva