Caregiving makes me feel like a failure.
I’ve always been afraid of failure. I haven’t always known that about myself, but now I do.
It’s been said that living through a difficult time provides perspective. For better (hopefully) or for worse, you come out on the other end seeing things a bit differently. Mom’s journey with dementia has done that for me–and it’s still doing it. It’s prompted me to step back and take inventory of my life. I don’t know how or when this all went down but I know it happened. I can feel it.
I’ve learned a lot in the process–about myself, about Mom, and about what’s most important to me. I’ve learned it’s ok to be sad…and to show it. Better yet, it’s ok to be angry and there are healthy ways to get it out (feels great). I’ve learned about the power of a smile too. Each day I get a little more in tune with all of it.
It’s all difficult to put into words but I feel empowered by this newfound and deeper self awareness. Who knows, maybe that’s a reason I was crazy enough to think starting Ro & Steve was a good idea. Regardless–I feel more fulfilled by trying to stay true to what I’m discovering about myself, my loved ones, and life in general.
The learning that’s helped me most (so far) in my day-to-day is learning how to be ok with failure. More importantly, how to see through it when I feel like a failure. Definitely a work in progress, but I’ve become ok with it with it and I feel lighter as a result. I wake up feeling more refreshed, recharged, and happier. Everything seems just a smidge brighter.
Feel like a failure and barely holding on
Like anyone else, everyday life was busy before Mom’s struggle with dementia began. There weren’t enough hours in the day as it was. When her diagnosis came along I was completely overrun. Initially running on adrenaline, I was furiously making lists and crossing things off. I was surviving. Barely.
It became a regular occurrence for me to have 20-30 reminders left unattended in my Google calendar (I live by that thing) at the end of the day. I was becoming an expert in hitting snooze and kicking the reminders down the road. At home my my desk looked like a detective’s wall covered in sticky notes, numbers, and to-do’s. It was straight out of central casting.
On the Verge
The problem was that I wasn’t doing any of it well–not for Mom, not for me, not for the kids or for Lindsay–and I felt it. I couldn’t keep up and was on the verge of a breakdown. Exhausted. I was failing and it felt awful.
A complete breakdown was avoided thanks to Lindsay and a great support system who helped me accept my new reality: feeling like a failure when it comes to caregiving was here to stay. They helped me see that no family caregiver starts out having it all down. Nobody comes in prepared. Beyond that, they helped me see that the job is impossible. You focus on loving and supporting the person you are caring for, do the best you can, and let the other chips fall where they may.
It was a matter of preserving my sanity. They helped me see the ‘to-do’s’ weren’t going away. They’d never be all done no matter what I did. They helped me see that I need to ask for help (huge) and that I need to redefine failure.
They urged me to focus on 2 things:
- Prioritizing what’s most important on a given day
KnowingBelieving it’s ok if the other stuff has to wait (because it will)
Surrendered & Saved
I was at my wits end and surrendered. I listened and tried. Amazingly enough, it worked for me and I’m forever grateful for their direction and advice. Life’s as busy as ever and most days I still feel like I’m playing whack-a-mole. But I know I’m tackling the right stuff when it needs to be tackled–and it’s being done with the love, care, and undivided attention it deserves.
I feel like a failure at caregiving. But I’m ok with it. I’ve accepted failing because it means I’m succeeding at what matters most: forgetting about the never ending sticky note to-do’s and giving Mom the love, support and attention she needs to live her best life in spite of her dementia.
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