Sometimes I have a down day when I struggle with the many responsibilities of caregiving. Then I feel sorry for myself because my life seems consumed by my new duties. It is not a pretty way to feel, and I am not proud of myself when I indulge in self-pity. Ordinarily exercising lifts my spirits if I feel a little down, but recently I had a cough that kept me out of the gym. I had to find other means of chasing away the blues. So, I turned to the lessons in the back of Lori’s Lessons and then spent some time talking to a friend.
I draw great comfort from Lesson 20: The biggest challenge for your caregiver is: to hate the disease, really loathe it, but not resent the person who has it. He or she may know intellectually that it is not your fault, but every caregiver has moments of thinking: “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” They have to set that aside and move on, for themselves as much as for you. Still, to underestimate the challenge of dealing with their emotions would be not only naïve but potentially destructive.
I feel so small and petty when I feel sorry for myself, but reading that every caregiver goes through this comforts me. Also I found the advice about not repressing these emotions very helpful. Pretending these emotions don’t exist could be destructive. If I deal with them, I will be able to move on.
So I spoke with a wise friend and told her about my emotional struggle. She lost her mother a few years ago and took very good care of her while she was dying. She told me it was often painful, but now she is so glad she was able to be present for her mother at that point of her life. The experience has deepened my friend and given her many tender moments to reflect upon. I felt so much better after being reminded to consider the beautiful times my mother and I have together.