Resentment is my strongest caregiving emotion (lately). I’ve hated dementia from the day we met but over time have acquired a resentment for caregiving. Like you acquire a taste for coffee, I’ve acquired disdain for caregiving. I’m ashamed to say it but am sick of hiding from it. Hiding it and denying it have only made it worse.
It’s all so confusing. I care for Mom out of love, not obligation. It’s an opportunity for me to repay Mom for all of the love, caring, compassion, and support she’s shown me along the way–of course. But that repayment is loving reciprocity, not obligation.
I also know how important it is. Along with being a parent, it’s the most important thing I’ll ever do. And I want to do it. Yet, I resent it. Not every day. Not even every week. But when it comes…it really comes and totally overtakes me. So. Much. Resentment.
A tidal wave that can’t be stopped, flushing through every corner of my mind and body until there’s nothing left. Except for a giant puddle of self pity. My stash of patience flooded. Smile exiled. Laughter impossible. Any ability I had to focus on something other than Mom is anchored to the bottom of the puddle.
Guilt and Liberation
It’s not the individual tasks of caregiving that I resent, it’s the always-on emotional availability they require. Because there’s not room for anything else. That’s what I resent.
The guilt accompanying these words is indescribable. But if I don’t acknowledge it, I won’t be able to truly see it for what it is–part of my caregiving (and life) story.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love Mom and it definitely doesn’t mean I’m less devoted to my mission of helping her live her best life in spite of dementia. Our story is a love story yet there’s a short chapter or two on resentment. That’s my reality.
I’m hereby declaring (to myself) that it’s ok to wish silently and temporarily that Mom didn’t crowd out everything else in my life. The girls. Lindsay. Friends. Work. Nothingness. It’s ok to want space and time for those things–and to be pissed when there isn’t any.
Maybe it’s natural and maybe it’s not. But I need to be ok with it. For my sake and for Mom’s.
Here’s to hoping that acknowledging all of this to myself, and keeping committed to self-care, will make the tidal waves of resentment a bit easier to deal with. Because they’re part of my story and they’re not going anywhere.
Can you relate? How do you deal with resentment?
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