Being self-less means taking care of yourself. A paradox, huh? I’m not going to sugar-coat the realities. Caregiving is hard work! At the same time, it’s one of the most rewarding endeavors in life one can do. Your heart becomes so full of love and care you think it’s going to burst. Whether for family or friends, if it’s really in your heart, you can endure the hardness. But, beware… If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t effectively care for your loved one. And, you’ll be exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally…
There are many difficulties caregivers face. While many people note the person needing care, often caregivers can be misunderstood. Why can’t you make that breakfast date? You can’t go to your child’s soccer game because you need to take your mother to her doctor’s appointment. Or, you can’t take a promotion at work that requires travel away from loved ones for more than a few hours. It’s not understood that certain needs and routines take precedence over others’ perceived priorities. It’s hard to understand that fact if you haven’t lived it, though. You are torn between caring about all the responsibilities in your life and wanting to make sure everyone and everything isn’t neglected.
That worry alone, on top of everything you have to do, can create an incredible burden and spiral of stress if you don’t just STOP! Look. I know it’s easier said than done. When there are needs and you truly care — I mean really deep inside the depths of your soul care — it’s impossible to turn off. I’m not saying to do that.
I’m saying everyone and everything in your life is going to have to have a priority. I was finding that I made so much time for everyone else, that I didn’t have the ‘me’ time I needed to regenerate and have the energy to have the life I wanted, which was to be a good wife, devoted daughter, and faithful friend. I was taking care of everyone else, but neglecting essential things I needed to be successful.
For a while, I felt I would wake up and the days would get away from me. I would wake up at 6am and before I knew it, it was 10pm. My mind was racing so much that it caused me to have trouble sleeping. (Oh, and did I mention I’m also in peri-menopause. Lawd, help me!) I had to make a decision. Loved ones depended on me and I had a responsibility to take care of myself so that I could be physically capable of being present to assist with their needs.
Soon, I’ll share more on the steps I took to take care of me first. Honestly, I have trouble even writing it in that fashion as I don’t want to be a selfish person. So instead, I decided I needed to thrive; not just survive. I know it’s easy to feel things are spinning out of control. Take a few minutes to just sit, close your eyes, and just breathe. Remember… you are doing the best you can. You can only do what you can do.