The Most Valuable Lesson I’ve Learned From Caregiving: LIVE!!!!
I can’t believe I’m going to be Forty-Two on Wednesday. I’m so thankful for another year, another opportunity to get it right. I guess God still sees purpose in me .
As I think about this new chapter unfolding before me. I think about how my life has changed so much from my Thirties. I was Thirty-Seven when my father passed away, and my mom came to live with my sister and I. We were traveling and living life like any two single women with no children would. We were ready to take on the world. Then, it all changed in a matter of three hours.
But, fast-forward to almost five years later and I feel more alive now then I did then. I never would’ve imagined being able to say that then. I thought my life, as I know it was over. I felt trapped, and couldn’t see the future in front of me. All I could see was fear, pain, and resentment. Thank goodness that was only False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR).
Caregiving magnified all of the “fears” inside of me. All I could think about was never getting married or having children. I thought my life would become an endless stream of work and home. There would be no time for any other relationships. All I would focus on was taking care of my mom, and I resented that. I felt like a caged bird. I wanted to be “free”, but I felt no matter what I did I was “trapped.”
However, as time and counseling went on, I realized I was only “caged” if I allowed myself to be. Yes, I had many demands as a caregiver when my mom was sick. Or when I was dealing with my sister’s frustrations stemming from grief and my mom’s overprotective nature. But, after I finally discovered that I controlled my environment versus my environment controlling me. I put the “brakes” on pity and “hit the gas” to my life.
I realized that caregiving should motivate me more than anything to live every moment fully. Life is short, and there is never going to be enough time to do everything everyone wants you to do. You can only do your best, and if I’m giving 100 percent to taking care of my family, then I deserve to give just as much to my happiness too.
I learned that my happiness is critical to my family’s happiness. They look to me to set the tone. So, I have to be fulfilled. My fulfillment will ensure that I’m at my best physically and mentally for them and any challenges that arise. That’s one of the hardest things for caregivers. We get hit with so many things sometimes, that all we do is focus on handling the challenges. As a result we become after thoughts on all levels.
Caregivers are more likely to be suicidal, facing addictions, and in poor health due to the stress of our situations. We also are likely to die early. But, that doesn’t have to be the outcome of our lives. If we make it a point to live, as much as we prioritize our families. If we do that, we’ll have rewarding lives that will equip us to live when our “caretaking assignment” is done.
Remember nothing is forever. So, I learned to stop making permanent decisions in temporary situations. I take every day as it comes. Tomorrow will take care of itself. I’ve learned my worth by caregiving, and I deserve to be taken care of physically and mentally. So, I run, travel, blog, laugh, smile, and savor life at every turn as much as possible. I don’t have this all figured out. My life is far from perfect. But, that’s ok, because I’m living.
Caregivers, live your life. Make time to do the things that make you happy, and that make you uniquely wonderful. Life is short, and just because you’re taking care of someone else doesn’t excuse you from taking care of you. Grab life by both hands, and never let go. When you put in the effort to live, life will rise up to meet you.
Until we meet again!