Woke up this morning with a question I have been hesitant to face; that question being, ‘What about me?’ I believe that some of the reason I have not wanted to face this question is partly because I have been a pretty selfish person my whole life; yet I have neglected the good for me most of the time. Being a part of the kingdom of God on top of it, the push to think of others better than yourself only adds to the confusion and guilt of even thinking for a moment about what is good for me; so I defer these selfish thoughts.
A little background about my life the last couple of years, I have been my husbands caregiver for the last two years since his stroke, and although I have been grateful to be able to do this for him, it has had some negative effects on him and me. For example, I have strangely enough come to see him as almost my child. I live in constant worry and fear that something is going to happen to him; projecting this pert near hysteria onto him does nothing to help the situation. He is a 57 year old man that can do almost anything and yet I act like he is going to get hurt at every corner and the impact it is having on both of us is not good.
Then comes the moments when I get tired of taking care of him; I get angry at him for needing me and I want to run away from it all. I am just being honest which I believe is important to my sanity. These thoughts come with incredible guilt, shame and horror for that is not who I am. I thrive when I get to help others; something that even through all the chaos of my life has always been there. The worst part about it I believe though is that he is my husband, not my child. This is already hard enough for him without me treating him like something he is not; and getting mad at him when he gets upset about his situation like he did it on purpose. Life throws some tough situations at us; and learning how to deal with those blows are a part of life that is definitely not easy; but every time I walk through them, the lessons are invaluable. I am just tired of learning. Yeah I said it. I sometimes wish that I could just jump in an RV and take off across the country and get away from it all!
Now that I have exposed all those ugly thoughts, I end up back at my title. I believe that part of the lessons I am about to learn have to do with finding a balance. I constantly hear in my heart, ‘What about you Lisa? You matter too. You cannot help him if you feel tired all the time and don’t set aside time from your busy life to rest your mind and take care of yourself!’ I fight back those thoughts with, ‘I don’t have time for that. My husband, my job, my whatever needs me all the time; so I can’t be bothered by that. Besides that is selfish; and that is not being a good christian woman taking time out for myself. Others better than ourselves right?’ Down they go until next time!
My husband and I are about to go through an amazing transformation yet again. It is not going to be easy by no means; but it is long past due. I need to be able to let myself do things for me that make me happy and feel better. It is not selfish but necessary to do that from time to time. Being a caregiver is a blessing in and of itself; however, being a wife is an even bigger blessing. As my husband and I are about to celebrate 15 years of being married, I have discovered that the longer you are married doesn’t necessarily make things easier, it just takes away a lot of the surprises in each others behavior. We are both transitioning into our golden years, and it is tough. I know our 50’s are still relatively young, but it still incorporates things into a person they didn’t have just ten years ago, which for some can be quite traumatic.
Being able to take care of oneself while being a caregiver/wife can be quite overwhelming and difficult, but I am willing to learn and figure out what is healthy and what is not. Self care I believe is vital to the care I give to my husband as it will keep me calm, patient and centered. My Lord saw the significance of getting off alone, and if I want to take any examples from Him it should be that. Sometimes I need to go for a walk by myself, or go grocery shopping by myself, or whatever. Vegging out in front of the TV is not a centering process; nor is it a place to rest my mind. I can’t say this is going to be easy for I have become somewhat set in my ways in regards to a comfort zone and program for life; however, thankfully I don’t have a really hard time with change and that is something to be grateful for.
Grace and peace,