Monday, January 20, 2014
Caregivers: How Do You Replenish Yourselves?
Imagine a job description that included 24x7 hours, no pay, doing all major house chores, child care, benefits only intangibles (like love), exhaustion guaranteed.
That's only a part of the caregiver's job. Some have a lighter load, and for some it's heavier - especially if your partner is having a relapse or is declining.
Caregivers do receive. Hopefully they get love and appreciation and the satisfaction of doing something that's life-giving for the person they love. And sometimes they just get indifference and exhaustion.
When I was in the second month of a recent relapse of my pain condition, Richard, my partner, got an invitation to visit an old college friend who was in the States visiting his family homestead in Texas. For me, it was a bad time to be without Richard. When I'm low, I depend on him to hold the hope. But we both knew that this trip was well-timed. He needed a break and some freedom. So I gave him my blessing to go and have fun. He promised to check in with me often.
One day, he and his friend went to Dealey Plaza, where President Kennedy was assassinated and where there is know a national historic landmark. Richard called me and offered to use Skype video to take me along on their tour. I didn't join them, but it was good to know that Richard carried me with him, wherever he was. And he returned home with more strength for my long recovery haul.
Caregivers, how do you replenish yourselves? Do you take time to do the things you love? Do you feel guilty about doing what your partner can no longer do? Does your partner support your autonomy?