Confession: open acknowledgment of feelings; something admitted or disclosed;
There is a dilemma which caregivers face daily, and while it has been on my list of things to write about, I am doing it now at the request of a fellow caregiver.
Is it selfish to want some time alone? Some “me time”? Time to let my batteries re-charge? To get with a friend or acquaintance? To go shopping or to the grocery store ( or sports store) and just meander the aisles? Or take a short trip?
I don’t think it is selfish at all. However, as much as I often want to run out the door with the clothes on my back and just hang out by myself or go out for a women’s night or day out, or drive to Montana and work in a diner for a while, I end up feeling guilty for these feelings.
There are two scenes at play here: first, the real need which we ALL have to be alone with ourselves occasionally to think, meditate, read, sleep, etc.,; secondly, the need to get away from the daily grind of seeing to another person’s needs, to be with peers, to go to an event, to sleep in, to fall asleep early, to stay out late. God even calls us to be alone with Him, and Jesus demonstrated this often during His ministry. But for me, and most caregivers I think, it is a near impossibility. We are bound to the people who need us and to our commitment to render that care faithfully.
So what to do?
People tell me all the time that I need to take care of myself. I know this, but my mind is usually thinking when they make this comment….how? Are you volunteering some time? Do you have a plan? Will you help me make that happen? They are well-meaning, but I am confounded about how to make it reality. It’s my issue…..
I know I need to be away or alone, but how to do it without displeasing T or making him feel rejected is the dilemma. How do I easily say, you are going to stay home while I ????? I feel he has lost so much, how do I add to that loss by taking off by myself or with a friend? And how do I say to someone, could you come over here and stay for a few hours….i just need to go do something I consider fun. It “aint” easy.
When I began, I had the medical knowledge to know this would be a challenging role. I knew it cognitively. And as I usually do, I plunged in with both feet . So a habit was established that T and I were together most all the time, we did most everything together, and as he became more disabled this habit continued but with more intensity.
As I look back, it would have been better to have begun by taking some time away occasionally – to have created a different pattern of living, one that gave me some space, that was more nurturing for me – not only for my pleasure, but as well – to replenish my empty emotional, physical, and spiritual tanks and allow me to be a better care-giver. I am easily dissuaded from following through with plans to get away for a day if it becomes arduous to work out, if the weather is bad, if T is having a bad day, on and on…but, I do have a plan to be out for part of a day this week. I need it!
Oddly enough……even as I write this, I can feel the little guilt monster rearing it’s ugly head to point a gnarly finger at me. Should I be ashamed of wanting to escape occasionally? As I said, my mind knows there is no shame in this very human need, but my emotions dare to chastise me when I begin to explore or put into motion time for myself.
There is more to be said, but I think my ambivalence is evident. It is a bit of a war going on inside my person, and I suspect, within other caregivers as they wrestle to find time for restoration and refreshment. Dare I encourage others to do a better job at what I find difficult? Dare I challenge those who are friends or acquaintances of caregivers to help them achieve this much-needed time, to offer to tend to the disabled, to pay for assistance, to go with them or meet them for lunch or dinner?
Hebrews 10:24” ….let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”