I am my own primary caregiver

Sunday, February 28, 2016

So, I may as well do the job to the best of my ability. No one else wants the job of being my caregiver, nor should they. I want to be strong and healthy and independent as long as possible. When and if the time should someday come that I need help caring for myself, my every intention is to be gracious and pleasant and very grateful for the care. There are several members of my extended adult family members who need various types and amounts of care. In one case, he is my age, 56, and has early onset dementia. I am not his caregiver, but rather am primary emotional support for his caregiver. In another case, she is nearly 95, tiny and stubborn and controlling but also appreciative and usually pleasant and I'm basically an assistant caregiver. Another is 71 and suffering a long list of very unpleasant health woes which are the direct result of years of terrible choices made day after day for decades, resulting in a level of misery that is hard to see and must be terribly difficult to bear. She's a hard one because she is not grateful, is usually deeply unpleasant, and has basically burned every bridge she's ever trudged across. I am not her caregiver though I used to do things in an effort to make her life more pleasant and I'm definitely the go-to sounding board for her part time caregiver and others in her family. I became emotionally exhausted by this last situation and after prayer and contemplation, have stepped back. I had nothing left to offer. I worked very hard to come to feel compassion and behave kindly and non-judgmentally with this last relative but, much to my surprise and a bit of dismay with myself, I seemed to burn through the compassion and kindness and be back to anger which turned to a sort of apathy. I finally recognized this as compassion burn out. Some souls may be capable of decades of endless compassion and patience but honestly, my soul is taxed and I won't do anyone any good if I show up resentful and pissed off. So, I have stopped, for the time being, mailing her packages and driving 10-12 hours round trip for visits, every few months, and taking lengthy phone calls from her part time caregiver who is SO burned out that, when I would offer acknowledgement or praise for how much she's already done and remind her that her mother is in an assisted living facility so she did not have to respond to every phone call or complaint as if it's a high alert emergency (I said this as gently and diplomatically as I possibly could), she turned her anger and frustration on me, too many times. I realized I was out of my depth, I can't save or rescue anyone, and if I continued down the burn out path, I would just cause more problems. The best I can do right now is pull back, take proper care of myself which includes, among other things, sleep, exercise, good food, rest, silence, entertainment, time with friends, and"nobody needs me" time. I'm still raising a very active 12 year old boy who's involved in athletics, taking care of two HIGH energy dogs, our two story home, a yard, and am married to a workaholic who is a good provider but is often absent. As grateful as I am to my husband for his hard work and dependability in this area, and I am, he's not available. He just isn't and this is something I choose to accept. I cannot change him, only my attitude towards him. I'm feeling as if I'm emerging from a long, harsh, exhausting journey though I know nothing will be magically easier and better from now on. It's just that I've taken some steps back in terms of laboring so hard over other people's lives, and I'm reclaiming some of that hard work, energy and efforts for my own precious life. I am a very good caregiver and I DESERVE a very good caregiver. I'm hiring myself. I am my own primary caregiver.💐🌷💐🌷
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It took me a long time, as well, to figure out that there are times I am willing and able to help others, and there are times I need to take that step back, as you did. I've had people be grateful for help, but also those who feel entitled to it and don't care about anyone but themselves. I even had one tell me, "you don't care about me." Those are the hard ones b/c you keep feeling like there should be a key to unlock them, and you know you're smart, and could do it. But your life matters, and if they don't want help, don't want to change, there's not much you can do for them, and you're actually caring for yourself (and those who do need you) better by staying away from them. But you already knew that :), and said it quite well here. Good job taking care of YOU!
    1885 days ago
    Yes!!!! I agree.YOU are not only an unbelievably patient, kind, thorough, loving caregiver, but the perfect person to hire for your own lovely body : ))))…

    I'm proud of you for making this decision to step back. I know this was a TOUGH decision for you to make, truly.

    I adore you!
    1893 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15145828

    This is just awesome. SO well written, and so very true. So much resonated with me, thank you!

    Now you're stuck with a new friend, LOL

    1895 days ago
    I love you.
    1896 days ago
  • DAISY443
    I have never had to be a caregiver and at age 76 realize that my time is coming to need more help. I hope I can be the gracious acceptor of health you have described and not the crotchety, mean, ungrateful one! Take care of you first, then your immediate family and dogs, then and only then, if you have energy left, the others on the periphery! Good luck!
    1896 days ago
    I so understand and agree! Very well said and I am so glad you are not doing a guilt number on yourself for getting a healthy perspective on things and giving care to yourself! These are some very strained situations you've been dealing with, and I think you made wise decisions!
    Glad you are back on Spark...
    1896 days ago
    You are so eloquently speaking for so many of us. Thank you for articulating these issues so honestly.
    I am glad you are choosing self care. We can learn from our elders who have passed or are passing. I also intend to leave this life with grace, dignity, and gratitude.
    Sending you blessings!!!
    1896 days ago
    1897 days ago
    That's a very sensible and sane decision: I applaud you!!

    When years ago I worked in a hospital for the terminally ill, I was initially indignant about those patients who never had any visitors. And having worked there for awhile, it became very evident to me: nice people generally had lots of visitors and the rest were reaping what they had apparently sown . . . . and continued to sow at the hospital itself!
    1897 days ago
    Fight the good fight! You can encourage people but you can't make them be encouraged. I know this first hand and it is exhausting to try to carry that burden
    1897 days ago
    That is a lot of emotional stress! Continue to take care of yourself
    1897 days ago
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