My Life is Being Stolen
When you are an unpaid caregiver it is common to have the feeling that your life is being taken from you. In fact, much of your time is being consumed by the tasks required of a dependent, be it a disabled spouse, an elderly parent, or even an ill child.
Is it possible not to feel resentment?
Frankly, I would be surprised if you did not feel this way at times. It is normal. When peers are out having fun, traveling, hiking, having weekends away, it can be difficult to handle what you feel are your obligations. You want to be doing whatever you want to also, but you know you are doing the right thing.
Many individuals will have periods in their lives when the burden of caregiving feels oppressive. Some people lose their parents as teenagers and have young siblings to care for, others will have an ill child to care for, some have an ill spouse, and others have elderly parents. It will be difficult no matter when it occurs in life. You will struggle. You will experience some resentment. When caregiving becomes stressful, it is easy to become caught in an unhealthy negative feedback loop. It is something we must try to avoid.
Negative Feedback Loop of Caregiving Resentment
- realizing your time and energy are being taken away from you
- "resentment" being slightly different for everyone.
- most people feel guilty for having even the slightest feelings of resentment
3. Feeling Unfilfilled:
- guilt blocks feelings of fulfillment with caregiving duties
4. Focusing on The Negative:
- wishing your reality was different
- thinking things will never change
5. The Loop Repeats:
- guilt, feeling unfulfilled and focusing on the negatives lead us to feeling more resentment.
There are individuals that will walk away from any caregiving role. They are subjects for another day. Today I am addressing those who have accepted some caregiving responsibilities.
It is helpful to look at your resources before you take on every aspect of care on your own. There are siblings, spouses, children, and paid help that can and should be tapped to help. Make sure that you take advantage of all available help. Taking on all of the work will wear you down and increase your resentment, so spread the load. When you are offered help, accept it.
The act of scheduling breaks is essential. If it means hiring a sitter, so be it. Hire the sitter. Don't overthink it. Time with friends, time for you, and time to be unencumbered is important. Whoever you are caring for wants you to be happy and whole, not worn down and miserable!
Do your best to look for the good in your situation. Yes, it is hard, and so is life. You are not alone. Do your best to feel grateful that you are healthy and able to give care in the first place. Try not to assume that what you are missing now will be forever. I believe that you will look back on these years with little regret. Try to think of caregiving as an opportunity to make a difference in this world. It may be for just one person, but think of the message your actions send to others.
Oh, and don’t read too much into what your friends and family are doing on Facebook… The majority of people only post fun and exciting things, leaving most everything else out. It’s just the nature of the beast. Don't let it get you down! :-)
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