Welcome to Following the Whispers blog
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.
“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf
“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In the past I've tended to have a "caregiver" personality. I like to help others, feel needed, and to be useful. That is, until I brought my Dad to live in New Mexico in 2001, where I proceeded to be his caregiver for three years. I've written an essay about that, which can be found on my website: http://www.followingthewhispers.com/, if you're interested. It's called "My Father's Keeper." Dad died in December of 2004.
Two years ago, we moved hubby's mom to Albuquerque from her hometown of Plainview, Texas, where she'd lived her whole life. There are profound differences in the relationship I have with her, as opposed to my father, the most important being that I feel loved by her, unconditionally--something I didn't feel from my father until the very end. She also has a much better attitude than my Dad, something hubby has inherited from her, and something I am aspiring to--she accepts the ebbs and flows and challenges life brings without complaint.
That being said, I am still struggling with feeling responsible for her needs. And that makes me feel awful. It doesn't matter that the feelings I am having are normal--all caregivers go through this. I expect myself to be able to manage my caregiver responsibilities seamlessly and without emotional reaction, to always be affable and smiling, never get irritated with her, and to willingly comply with whatever comes up.
Big lesson in life for me: watch out for expectations. I do much better with neutral expectations, but I tend to forget this. Although I have grown and changed many behaviors and attitudes over the years, I can most assuredly tell you I am never going to be the person described in the above paragraph--not in this lifetime, anyway. So how do I deal with this in a way that works for me?
One minute at a time. One thought, feeling, belief, action at a time. Each need, each request, each intrusion on my time and my life must be looked at individually. Is this really necessary? Must I stop everything and handle this now? Can it wait? Is it life threatening? Will it affect quality of life?
These questions ensure that I will not allow my emotional responses and reactions to interfere with making appropriate decisions regarding her care. So, when she tells me she wants me to come to the Family XMAS reception the retirement community hosts each year, I can, without guilty conscience, say, "No, mom, I can't. I need the time for me." Well, I can't truthfully say it's guilt-free, but at least I know I'm within my rights to feel and say and do this.
How do you deal with the conflicting needs of self versus life: spouse, kids, friends, family? How do you take care of you?