Have a wonderful week!
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What to do when caring for a loved one
feels too hard.
I’m happy to let you know that my dad was released from the hospital last week and is now home resting somewhat comfortably. It’s not easy for him to balance a quick mind with a slow-moving body.
My dad’s illness has been tough on my family, especially my mom and dad, and I know we’re not alone. So many of you are supporting loved ones through a health crisis (whether because of aging or illness). It’s an extremely stressful time in life for everyone involved.
Lately, Michael and I have been challenged to come up with new self-care strategies in order to stay sane and balanced during this stage of our lives.
We’ve been listening to comedy while driving in the car and as we do, I often wonder if George Carlin, Louis C. K. or Paul D’Angelo ever thought they’d be used as self-care tools
Speaking of driving, last week, while sitting in traffic for nearly two hours trying to get to the hospital to see my dad, I thought my head was going to explode.
So I did two things:
First, I prayed to my friend Lucy who passed away more than twenty years ago, and asked her to please clear the roads so I could get to my dad before breakfast.
I call upon those who have gone before me all the time.
I ask for guidance.
I ask for strength.
I ask for ideas and resources.
And yes, I ask for parking spots and green lights, too .
I even asked Lucy to help my dad pee when his catheter was removed, so he could leave the hospital without any drama.
The next thing I did in the middle of my traffic meltdown was this…
I played Christmas music and started singing.
Trust me, it’s hard to feel stressed and angry while belting out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan at the top of your lungs in the middle of summer traffic.
I’ve also been reading poetry because it keeps my heart open and when my heart is open I feel connected to love and compassion and the deeper truth of life.
My friend Ellen gave me a book called Poems from the Pond: 107 Years of Words and Wisdom by Peggy Freydberg who started writing poetry at the age of 90. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful account of life, love, and loss, and I highly recommend it.
Finally, one of the most important ways I’ve been practicing better self-care during this difficult time is to keep my reactiveness in check when it comes to dealing with family matters.
Let’s face it, when families are under stress, the crap tends to hit the fan. People get scared. Feelings get hurt. Fear rears its ugly head and everyone runs for cover.
When I get scared, my hyper-responsible thirteen year-old takes over and I start behaving like I rule the world. (I’m the oldest of 7 kids so I learned early on how to lead the pack)
I can become a little monster…
I’m the one who knows what my dad needs to get better.
I’m the one who should be talking to doctors.
I’m the one my family should listen to.
It doesn’t matter that I’m also the one who lives further away and therefore doesn’t shoulder the same responsibility as some of my siblings who live nearby.
Becoming a little monster is a sign of regressed behavior. We all tend to do it when under stress. Old habits and patterns that kept us safe when we were little take over, and we’re suddenly a kid in an adult body wreaking havoc.
We start fighting with each other (or the establishment).
We gossip behind each other’s back.
We step into denial and leave the caretaking to someone else.
When I’m in a regressed state and I turn into little miss bossy pants, it’s unfair to other family members. After all, who am I to come galloping in on my off-white horse and expect them to get in line behind me?
These days I’m learning to be a helpful family member instead of a pain in the butt. I’m doing my best to stay conscious of my behavior and reactions. I’m giving up control and supporting those who are in charge. And when I feel the energy of activation rise in my body, I breathe and tune into a more loving and compassionate place.
My default is to ask: How can I be of help right now?
I’m also learning to be honest with my siblings about how I feel rather than always sharing what I think.
It’s tough to sustain drama in the midst of truth.
These are some of the self-care strategies that are working for me and I hope they’re helpful in some way to you, too.
I know I’m fortunate to be part of a large family and I have such empathy for those of you who are going it alone.
Blessings on the journey, dear friends #x2665;.
This Week’s Video
If you haven’t heard this priest sing, you’re in for a real treat. Check out this week’s video, here. Thanks, Johnny! #x2665;