Showing posts with label caregiver emotions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caregiver emotions. Show all posts

The Supposed To's

Aunt Polly and me riding in the car

 Do you ever feel haunted by "supposed to" thoughts? I'm pretty sure none of us grew up thinking we'd be spending our years as a caregiver, even though most of us thought at least at some point that we'd provide some level of care for our parents as they aged.  But here we are, taking care of our loved ones. It may not have been our dream, but it is our reality today.

Our parents were supposed to grow old, retire, and do all the fun things they put on hold while they were raising their kids, right? Our kids were supposed to go to college, get jobs, and build lives and families of their own. But things don't always work out like they are supposed to, do they?

I think that dealing with some of the things that were supposed to happen according to what we all deem as "normal" is one of the hardest parts of caregiving. Thinking along those lines can bring on depression quickly. If I don't nip it in the bud, it can escalate until I am in an emotional pit that is difficult to get out of. Shifting my focus to reality doesn't really help, LoL. If you know what I mean. If I don't protect my mind and soul, I can wind up in a caregiver's fog that begins the slow drag into despair.

But protecting the mind and soul is a hard thing. Here's an analogy. When I was in Tae Kwon Do, we were taught to keep our hands up while sparring. That's how we were able to protect ourselves from the blows that would be thrown. But as a caregiver, our hands are full. We can't do much more than carry what's in our hands; forget about blocking anything! That's how many of our days feel - we already have our hands full of caregiving tasks, yet we must block negative thoughts, emotions, and even things people say to us.

So here we are in a funk, with our hands full of responsibilities that simply cannot be put on hold. The supposed to's are running through our heads, and we have too much in our hands to block them. Just about the time we think we are done - His grace swoops in and covers us, protects us and carries us. It's happened over and over - just about the time I think I cannot handle one more tiny thing, He blows my mind and sustains me. God is so amazing.

So, today, instead of letting the supposed to's have room in my head - I'm going to give them to Him. I'll shift my focus to what He can do from what I cannot do. I will trust Him for one more day. If you don't have a better option, will you join me?


                                                                                                                                           


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That About Covers It!

 


This morning an old song came to mind. I was working in the kitchen humming I'm on the battlefield for my Lord. I love those good ole songs, don't you? Maybe it's because caregiving can become a battlefield for emotions and our own mental health. Stuff tends to tear away at us. There's no doubt we ride an emotional roller coaster, right? The good thing is that we do keep coming out on top. I'd have to say it's so because of His undergirding power! 

So, I was working through some of my emotions this morning and found myself reading the first couple of verses of Psalm 144. I mentioned the part about how He teaches my hands to fight somewhere the other day in one of the devotions I do. But I have to wonder exactly what that means for us. David was talking about a real fight, a tangible battlefield. Our battlefield stays in our minds and emotions most of the time - but that doesn't make the battle any less real.

Here's what the first couple of verses of Psalm 144 says:

Bless the Lord, who is my rock.

He gives me strength for war and skill for battle.

He is my loving ally and my fortress,

my tower of safety, my deliverer.

He stands before me as a shield, and I take refuge in Him. (NLT 1996)

As I read over this familiar scripture this morning I shook my head as I realized how He really does have us covered from head to toe - and back to front. He surrounds us with His grace and mercy for sure! The only work we have to do is to take our refuge in Him - to run to Him. But He's got our backs! We certainly can't say that about a lot of people. Some caregivers have friends or family who help and that is such a blessing. But many are out there on their own with little or no help at all and very few breaks. It's comforting to know that no matter what our personal caregiving story looks like - He's got us hemmed in, shielded, and totally covered!

Today, I will meditate on how He purposefully chooses to fight for me. My thoughts will be on how He is an ally who loves me and offers Himself as a sure place of safety for my mind and emotions. I'll lean into Him just a little more today and trust Him with all my feelings, thoughts, fears, joys, and triumphs - because He is my ally. He is for me. He is for you. Today, I'll purposefully take refuge in Him. Will you join me?



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I Will declarations book cover


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Can We Laugh Yet?

Chris and i after our first race

 I had a very awkward moment while talking with a nurse yesterday. She called to schedule my appointment with a cardiologist. After we had it scheduled, I explained that I am a caregiver and I don't have a sitter for my son. I asked about COVID protocol and if it was okay if I brought him to this initial appointment. She said it was fine and that there are no limitations on visitors in place. She said - as long as he will wear a mask. I assured her that he can wear a mask - then I chuckled and said - "He'll have to - he can't move his arms so he can't take it off." I thought it was funny but then a very awkward silence followed. 

Now I admit I can have a weird sense of humor, and I can make a joke about almost anything. While it wasn't an awkward moment for me, I felt bad if I made her feel uncomfortable. She'll get used to me - I know it's an adjustment. (lol) But it made me do some thinking about when it's okay to laugh. That statement wouldn't have been funny to me at all right after his accident. 

We learned to laugh to keep from crying as my mom went through dementia. Somehow seeing the humor made the pain a bit more bearable. Some of the antics she pulled were hilarious - and we would laugh together and then cry together.

We are (hopefully) coming out of a pandemic and there hasn't been a lot to laugh about. It felt very irreverent to laugh or make jokes at first, didn't it? But eventually, as a whole, we began to laugh and even write songs about the woes we've faced as we forged through some of the world's toughest days. 

Some days we can't laugh until we get through it, right? Come on - you're caregivers, you know all those unspoken things we "aren't allowed" to talk about - like bowel catastrophes. (There, I said it!) We can find ourselves in some crazy situations and once we have resolved them we may sit down and cry it all out. But then later, we find the humor. When it's not so in our faces, then we laugh and laugh. 

We know that tears can be healing - but so is laughter. It's okay to laugh. We need to laugh. It literally can help lower blood pressure and relieve tension in your body. So, go ahead and laugh. Watch a funny movie. Listen to silly songs. Laugh. 

Think about it this way - when we can laugh (at funny stuff - not serious stuff), we are saying we trust God with it. There's a freedom that comes when we can laugh while we are going through, even if others don't understand us. That nurse didn't get it. Most don't get that I am okay when it looks like I shouldn't be. Are we supposed to be down and depressed and sad all the time? I refuse to succumb to that. You know as well as I do that I have my moments. And I know that you have yours. But ultimately we are trusting God to get us through whatever we are facing and working through, right? It's okay to laugh. It's our way of showing that the circumstances haven't won - we are still "in there" somewhere under the caregiver's load - and we are still alive. Better than that - we are thriving because of our trust in our God.

Today, I will purposefully lighten up. It's my way of saying I know you've got this God. I refuse to be burdened to the ground with the load, even though it's heavy. Maybe I'll take a break from work to watch a silly movie (no dramas. lol), read a book, or play a computer game. It sounds a bit silly - but it is a true faith statement - one that says I trust Him for the outcome of this day, this week, this year, this journey. It's part of trusting Him. I will lighten up today and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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A Mixed Bag

 

chris and I hanging out at Bluff Creek Park

Do you ever find yourself wondering about the benefits of social media? Personally, one of the positives is that it's helped us stay connected, sometimes in a weird sort of way, through the pandemic. I've connected with "long lost" family members and friends. But sometimes, aside from those and maybe a few more positives, I just look at the screen and shake my head a lot.

Do we all really need to see what you had for breakfast? So, you found a penny while you were on your walk, and? Mixed in with the wonderful photos of family, friends, and vacation excursions is a mix of what? posts. There are heavy posts and light posts; humorous posts and serious posts. Sometimes, I'm like - you really need a group just for that. They probably have that too.

Groups for those who grieve, sing, pray, share photos of specific regions, love animals and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a mixed bag, isn't it? 

Sometimes my heart feels like a social media posting wall. lol. One second I'm happy - the next I'm in deep grief. One minute I'm singing and the next I'm crying. One time I am praying, the next I'm thanking God for answers while forming my next prayer. Anybody relate?

Honestly, I can't always handle social media. There are days trauma rolls through the pages. Sometimes, it's just memories that haunt me. I have to find a reprieve. I wonder if our lives look sort of like a social media platform to God. He scrolls down through all our heart's posts looking for something of substance. While I know that's not really how it is - what I do know is that He can handle my mixed bag of emotions, crying, rejoicing, grieving, singing, praying, and thanking. Whatever I've got in my "bag" at any time will not overwhelm Him. He doesn't need to take a FaceBook break from me. I so love that He can handle whatever I'm dealing with any given second, no matter how random, how deep, how serious or silly, or how fleeting. He's got me right where I am mixed bag and all. The key though is letting Him have the bag!

Today, I'm going to open up my bag and pour it out before Him. I'll give it up to Him and let Him do the sorting out because I kinda tend to get lost in it sometimes. My grief, happiness, need, desire, longing, - anything and everything is His today. You wouldn't think He'd be that excited about such a mixed bag of stuff, would you? But He loves it when we bring it all to Him. I'm going to hand Him everything and the bag - and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

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Primer on the Gifts of the Spirit bookcover
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Bible Caregivers

 

Aunt Polly and me in the car

As the year draws to an end and I start setting new goals for the upcoming year, I spent time this morning praying and thinking about this blog in particular. I feel like I have failed you, my fellow caregivers, by not being more consistent in posting. That's one thing on my list - to post consistently! I'm working on a time each week where I can set down with coffee or tea in hand and write a week's worth at a time. I prefer writing them every morning, but logistically that doesn't always work out. :-) 

So, I was thinking about taking topics and expanding them out. That led me down a series of thoughts about the caregivers in the Bible. While I've just started compiling a list I came up with these few off the top of my head:

  • Abraham and Isaac
  • David and Mephibosheth
  • Hagar and Ishmael
  • Joseph and his dad and brothers
I thought, man, those are some great ones to start with! These are some of our favorite Bible heroes, but we don't often think of them as "caregivers," do we? Yet each of them cared for another person in one way or another. Maybe their situations were very different than ours. But then, each of our situations is very different anyway! Some of us care for aging parents, but I have many caregiver friends who care for special needs children and special needs adults.

Any way you slice it, caregiving isn't an easy task. There are so many emotions involved from any angle. When we care for parents or other elderly family members there's a role reversal that takes an emotional toll. Caring for adult children who are "supposed" to grow up and move out has a totally different weight. And caring for a child with disabilities has emotional challenges of a totally different nature. So we can look at each of the caregivers in the Bible and glean something from their experiences, right?

Abraham laid his son (promise, future, hope) on the altar. That'll preach. Hagar was distraught worrying about Ishmael's survival. We have likely each faced this emotional challenge on one level or another as we've advocated on their behalf. Joseph sent for his dad and family and provided for them during a difficult famine. And David had Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son who has disabled, come to his palace so he could care for him. I'm sure he provided staff to take care of Mephibosheth, but nonetheless, Mephibosheth lived in the palace under David's protective hand.

Each of these characters shows us a picture of strength, faith, courage, hope, and trust in God. Those are things we can hold on to and use to encourage ourselves as we face difficult and not-quite-as-difficult days. One thing we can be sure of is that God is the caregiver for us all. That's foundational - and worth building on.

Today, I will meditate on God's care for my soul. I will think about these caregivers (and others) from the Bible and consider how they each leaned on God for their soul's survival. I'll lean my heart a little closer to His today as I trust Him for direction for myself and my caregivee. Will you join me?

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The Great CoverUp

 

Chris and myself standing together

Each day brings a whole range of emotions for a caregiver. I don't want to brag but I can go from the epitome of cheer to the pits of despair in a matter of just a couple of seconds! I can be having a great day and happy to be alive and see a photo of one of Chris' friends on Facebook - and sadness overwhelms me as I wonder where he'd be and what he'd be doing if the wreck hadn't happened. Sometimes, good things cause sadness. Another example is when he makes progress. It's so exciting! But it's sad too that I am rejoicing that he took one step when it should be other things like getting married or pursuing his career in music. It's easy to paint over those emotions, isn't it?

Lately, I've discovered that I really enjoy painting. I've tried watercolor and like it. But I've done more with acrylics. There is something therapeutic about mixing colors and creating. I like some of my final products and I like some less. lol. But I never worry about making a mistake because I can just paint over it and start again. As I was thinking about a painting idea this morning that I really want to try, I thought I can't really mess it up  - I can paint over it.

In reality, I can paint over it. But the texture of what was will remain. It's just covered up. 

Sometimes, our emotions can be like the covered-over "mess-ups." We paint on a pretty smile to greet our loved ones, but underneath we know our hearts are still broken. Maybe we paint on a joyful attitude while we know our insides are still crying out. It's all still there - we just covered it up.

Here's the thing. God knows. And the best part is that He understands. He can look past our covered-up emotions and tears and see our true hearts. He sees and understands all the emotions mixed up together to make one new color of our lives. And He still extends His peace, love, and grace. He can see past whatever we used to cover over our emotions and feelings - He still knows what is underneath. And that's the part of us He wants to touch.

Today, I will think about how deeply He sees into my heart. I'm glad He does. I don't have to cover up anything - He knows it all and He still loves me and still wants to be with me. I'll be thankful today that He doesn't toss us to the side or say we "have too much baggage" for Him. Instead, He pulls up a seat beside us and just sits. I'll thank Him today for just being; for just being right here for whatever I face or feel. I'm just going to sit with Him today - because He's here. Will you join me?

four of my acrylic paintings

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...