The gift of caregiving
“Along the way, your voice has changed. Not in how you sound, per se, as much as in the sound of your convictions. You know something and have learned something that others cannot (or choose not to) know when it comes to being with another. You don’t talk about resilience – you have shown what resilience looks like when you don’t have the luxury of time and distance to pause and figure out what your experiences mean in the past tense. You have begun to make meaning out of your experiences while care continues.
People may seek you out because you have done something – and are doing something – that they are just now entering. They may want your advice. They may seek your counsel. “Where can I go to find someone who is in a situation like mine?” “How do I negotiate for more services in my community?” “How did you become such a compelling advocate for you and your loved one?” “How do you persuasively articulate your care situation to your supervisor at work?” “What online networks should I check out?” “What help may be available to me in my community?“
People ask these questions not because you have all the answers but because they know something about you that may be difficult for you to acknowledge. Yes, you have gained something in this process. You have gained parts of yourself that were called into action out of necessity. And care. And determination. And because you wanted to make space for a better life for you and your loved one. In the trenches, your care was a response to what needed to be done. But it also reflects a willingness to reclaim you in your situation.”
A willingness to reclaim you in your situation…. those words sit quietly with me right now. For in the middle of the storm, you and I only had ourselves. There was absolutely no one else to turn to. It required our courage of convictions, complete focus and dedication to manage what others find incomprehensible. Since we are never promoted for our role as a caregiver we have no way of measuring the enormity of what we have done and continue to do.
Sit with that for a while. Allow yourself to breathe it in. You are truly supernatural even if your body and mind feel so frequently as if they are failing you. Take some time to see how strong you are. You keep picking yourself up where so many others had the luxury of giving up. This resilience and endless selflessness are what set you apart and eventually, it becomes an opportunity. Because deep inside you start to feel a calling that arises out of the fog for you to reclaim YOU in your situation. Not the YOU that you may have been doing on autopilot before your life changed. But the YOU that you actually want to be now that you have woken up and all the masks have been stripped away. What a gift.