Caregivers are not perfect. They are not Superheroes (but we like to play them from time to time) or Angels (well maybe some of us but we slide back and forth between wings and horns). The millions of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. are just ordinary people doing what needs to be done for their loved one or friend. It is love that makes us do what we do. We make mistakes. We are not always on our “game”. This can be due to stress, exhaustion from lack of sleep, illness or injury, depression…the list goes on. The caregiver can also lose themselves in their care recipient. When you give yourself to care for another person there is little left for you.
Disclaimer: This post was not intended for the public, it started as a journal entry. I am not sharing for sympathy nor am I sharing to elicit affirmations. This is me being honest. Me hoping that if just one family caregiver sees this and takes something away it was worth sharing.
As we ease out of crisis mode and into living this new life, I have lost me. I spend my days taking care of the Big He, Little He, Dogs, House and that is when I can drag my butt off the bed or chair and focus long enough to get things done. Some days I feel like I am just putting band aids on problems and other days I can only tackle one thing. Many days I sit and mindlessly read my social media accounts. My head tells me I am being lazy, my body tells me it has hit a wall. Every day my needs are left for last. I often forget to take my meds and have put off every doctor’s appointment that should have been made in early 2019 to now. If I do take any time away for me, which usually means a quick errand, the guilt I have is so heavy that it is easier to just come back home. The one area of my life that I have maintained is the twice a month appointments to my mental health therapist…who I lovingly refer to as my crazy doctor. Guilt is a common topic as is my need to make sure everyone has what they need. People pleaser has been a term that has come up many times. Maybe people is the wrong term, family pleaser. Yep that’s better. I want to please my family. All of this has led to you guessed it, me not really knowing who the hell I am.
I have one of those fancy planners that you can buy stickers and use to make them look pretty. There was a sticker that talked about using the week to cultivate: my social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical aspects of my life. I stared at that damn sticker for days and it hit me, I had nothing to add to this. I take that back, I have started to do guided meditation thanks to a very smart person I have in my life…you know who you are MHW. She started me on guided meditation and the idea of being present in my life. She is also the person that tells me to “get over that guilt shit”. In my defense she has been doing this caregiver life longer than me. It turns out she is letting me cheat off her and learn from her mistakes as a caregiver.
This has been very overwhelming and I will admit I feel a bit overwhelmed. I want to correct all of this right now. Oh, did I mention that also in my therapy sessions we talk a lot about my control issues? I know it will take me some time to first figure out how to cultivate the different areas of my life and second to not feel guilty. I like projects. My new one is that I am going to work on me.
It’s funny, well not haha funny but more like hmmmm funny… I have referred to myself as a widow in training. When I first said that it was because I was having to do all those things that the Big He did for me. Get gas, know when the oil needed changing…and not ignore the oil light, fix stuff around the house…stuff like that. I now look at it as I need to find who I am absent of the Big He. So, from time to time I will keep you updated on Project Me as I learn to navigate as a caregiver that gives her everything to her husband, her son and as important herself.
All my love,