A few nights ago I had an epiphany in the middle of the night. I realized that no one cared about what it is I was going through at the moment. By that I don’t mean that they literally don’t care, they just have their own life and they have no time to be pulled into the life of someone else. Really and truthfully, I think most people would prefer to have you answer with, “I’m fine” when they ask how you are. You can’t blame them for wanting a simple answer. I’m grateful to hear that simple answer from others too!
Think about it. We each have this one life to live. This life is so busy that we barely have time to stop and think. What you truly care about is what is going on in your life. How much time do you have to spend worrying about someone else? Not much. You might put them in your prayers or offer a shoulder to cry on but then you go about your own life.
When we go through these periods of time when things are overwhelming, we want someone to care. We want someone to notice that our life is no longer our own. We are having to sacrifice our time and energy. We want someone to notice, damn it! What good does that do though? The ones that you really want to notice are the other family members that could step up and help out. They notice all right. They notice and silently say a prayer of gratitude that they aren’t the ones having to do all the work. They get to simply go about their normal life without any hiccups. That is what hurts you. They don’t seem to care that you are running yourself into the ground.
There really isn’t anything you can do about it. You can throw a temper tantrum, threaten to stop helping your parents so that your sisters have to take over, go on a rant, hold your breath until you pass out. None of it works. They don’t care what you are going through as long as it isn’t them doing it. You know the old saying. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can show a sister all the work you do to take care of your parents but you can’t make them help.
When I realized this the other night, I actually felt a shift in my body. I know it sounds strange but I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I realized that not everyone is cut out to handle all the stress that comes with being a caregiver. Some can’t handle any aspect of the situation at all. Nothing that I say or do is going to get them to come around to my point of view and start helping. There is no one out there who will step up to save me. This is on me to figure things out.
So what happened after my realization? I felt calmer. I let go of a lot of the anger and resentment. I have allowed myself to have time for me. I started working on trying to figure out how to get our business off the ground. I’m making plans for the future. I’m letting myself have hope that everything will be fine. And I’ve moved to living in the present when it comes to the parents. I simply take things one day at a time.
We did receive confirmation that my mother has colon cancer. That was the bad news. The good news is that it has not spread and it is a slow growing cancer. Now we just have to go to the next doctor and find out what to do. The bad part is that we also found out that Mom might possibly have something called Lynch Syndrome. That is something she got from one of her parents that makes her prone to getting colon cancer. It’s probably the reason that one of my sisters ended up with colon cancer in her 40’s. I’m not going to worry about that just yet.
My father is doing well. His Parkinson’s is holding steady and physical therapy is a blessing. The parent who was diagnosed with a severe disease years ago is doing the best out of all the parents! Dad is definitely a survivor. He’s holding his own against Parkinson’s and survived a stroke. He wouldn’t have made it this far without the help he received from my mother but he is a survivor.
The one I’m worried about the most is my mother-in-law. Since she fell and broke her kneecap, she can’t seem to make any progress forward. I seriously think that she is giving up. Her Alzheimer’s is getting worse and she can’t fully get rid of some infection. She keeps the doctor and nurses stumped. When I go to visit her, she’s always in her room with the TV off. I don’t know if she can’t operate it or it irritates her. I always offer to call her sisters since I know she can’t figure out the phone. She takes me up on the offer sometimes.
All three of them have so much going on and need so much help and attention. I feel bad that my husband and I don’t have more hours in the day to give to them. I was feeling guilty for taking our time away from them to give it to ourselves. I don’t anymore. They had the chance to live their lives to the fullest and I deserve that right too. Yes, I can be there for them but I don’t have to give all of me to them. That is the hardest part of being a caregiver. Finding that fine line.
I know now that we won’t be getting much physical help for all their needs. We do get some mental help from those who give us a chance to vent. That’s the best kind of care that we can receive from others. So we do have those who care to see that we don’t fall off the mental wagon into the abyss of despair and exhaustion. Those are the people you hold dearly in your heart.
Time to get organized and clean. I have medical bills to pay for the parents. Then off to the store for them before quick visits to all three. It’s a lot of work but it is also a blessing. Not everyone gets to be here at this time in their lives. It’s not always pleasant but it feels good knowing that our presence provides them with comfort and a sense of security. I can do this. I can survive this period of my life along with my husband. And I will come out stronger on the other side. I’m liking this new attitude!