Episode 28: I Want To Run Away!
Do you remember the moment you felt like running away? Or maybe those have been moments plural.
That second when you had that brief pause and it all hit you that this was it, at least for now. This was as good as things are going to get when things weren’t good at all? You know that thought that made you feel the heaviness of the situation and sucked the breath out of your lungs. And for at least a moment (if not more) you wanted to run, leave, or wave a wand and come out of the bad movie you just realized you were in?
It’s ok to feel this.
Caregiving isn’t a job most of us decide to do. Right? Well, maybe we do in a way. I am the caregiver for my husband I decided not to leave when he found out he has cancer. I guess what I mean is, the terms of the relationship change when your loved one became ill or disabled and you had no forewarning.
You got a call from them or were at the doctor’s office with them when you found out. Or a call from a hospital to let you know there had been an accident. Maybe your loved one was born needing you as a caregiver.
Meaning - you didn’t see this as your future. And when you were thrust into this role you didn’t pack your things up and leave.
As caregivers we often times are so focussed on what is happening to our loved one and preoccupied with what we need to do with them that we don’t take a minute to step back and see how things are.
When you are trying to figure out how to get them in for a doctor’s appointment because they
aren’t doing well after a surgery ...
but you have your water boiling over on the stove ...
and someone calling you on the phone ...
while you really need to pee…
there’s no energy left to stop and say, hmmmm how are things right now?
I think these holy shit moments come when you’ve given yourself just enough time to slow down and this thought or feeling that has been growing deep down in that holding cell in your heart has the opportunity to escape. I’m pretty sure we all have had a time when the realness becomes overwhelming. This doesn’t make you a bad person. You aren’t the only one who has felt it. Many of us have found ourselves washing dishes, staring out the window and - while allowing us to become distracted by the world outside realize this is it for now!
Just a tired, overwhelmed person washing dishes for the freaking millionth time today and thinking, wondering Is this it? This is it! Crap this is it right now this is my life this is what I’m doing and I can’t see the end of it or maybe the end is worse to think of than where I am right now.
Then maybe you start to hyperventilate until the tears come and you continue washing those dishes
Because you feel there is no one YOU know that you can talk to about this that wouldn’t think you’re a monster.
The panic that sets in! When your mind races to figure out the solution to the problem it has just been presented with and the only option it can give you is step away from the things that challenge and threaten it. The shame you would feel to hear yourself say the words to someone else. To admit that you don’t have this under control. To share the dirty secret that you have moments when you want out.
Then this overwhelming feeling shifts. You feel guilty for even thinking of wanting a break. Or to leave. Or to want your life to be different because your loved one is the one suffering - right?
Who am I to say l feel like I got a crappy deal in life right now when my loved one is the one that is sick, that can’t do things, is fighting for their life? Who am I to say my life isn’t good when I am more mobile than my loved one, not in the pain they are in, can feed myself, go to the bathroom on my own. Who am I to say my life isn’t good when we are talking about hospice for them?
The guilt we all feel …
So we shove that feeling back down into the little space inside us that contains it and we finish washing those dishes. Like a kid being told to finish their dinner - through the tears we suck it up and do what needs to be done.
How does that feel right now? What do you do with that? How lonely it feels to have these things inside us that we feel we can’t talk about to anyone. The energy that you feel you would need to have to explain it to someone makes it even easier to just keep it to yourself. But when you do that it grows doesn’t it? Knowing that it is there makes the guilt and the panic and the shame worse on some days.
Of course something pulls you away from that thought and you forget that feeling … that thought. But it’s always there isn’t it? Once it shows itself it never goes away because you give it life by holding on to it. Don’t let this be a secret you try to hide that makes you act out of guilt. You aren’t a bad person for feeling this way. Don’t compare yourself to your loved one. When you have emotions or feelings or thoughts fueled by the overwhelm of being a caregiver they are yours to have. Don’t feel bad for having them.
If you are caring for someone right now it means that you are not living a lifestyle that is carefree. You are probably distracted from life. Not doing much for yourself and when you do you feel like you shouldn’t be. Your life IS hard. It is difficult to give so much of yourself to another person. So find a way to let those feelings and thoughts go. Let them show up and try to understand why you are feeling this way. Emotions are important to acknowledge because they are trying to tell us about the things we are trying to ignore inside.
If talking to someone doesn’t feel good to you then maybe write them down.
But just know…We all want to run away at some time or another. I think we are just too tired to go anywhere.
Being a caregiver can feel lonely. Know that I’m here to listen share your caregiver story with me via a message. I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you for listening to and supporting the podcast. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it with someone who might benefit from listening to it.
I would be extremely grateful if you would consider taking a minute to leave an honest review and rating for the show in iTunes. They’re helpful when it comes to reaching other caregivers and I read each and every one of them personally!