I had this huge personal revelation that was a part of a deep belief system–and I realized that I did this very “thing” during caregiving–and if I did this, other caregivers might be doing it too.
This is the “thing” I’m talking about.
Paying for what you’ve done.
Example: You know how when you’re a kid and you’re supposed to get to go do something fun–like say, to go a birthday party–your parents tell you that to be able to go you have to clean your room, cut the grass, and when you get back you also have to do all your homework for the week?
In other words, you have to pay for having the good time.
And of course, you really had to PAY if you were ever bad–came home late, got in trouble (they called it punishment)
Well, I realized that I was (and am) still doing this to myself.
If I went out of town or went out to dinner with girlfriends, I’ve always made sure the house was clean, there was extra dogfood–and if I was gone a few days, I’d make sure there was a roast in the crock pot, a lasagna in the freezer…in other words, PAYMENT.
I couldn’t ever just believe I deserved something good.
Not just a gift–a gift is given sometimes to the UNdeserving.
I mean, believing deep down that I deserved something good–with no need to pay for it in any way.
Remember the old Puritan Ethic?
Work hard and God will reward you.
I twisted it even further…Work hard or God won’t reward you.
Even after you’ve been rewarded, STILL work hard because you probably haven’t worked hard enough! In other words…work, work, work!
Did I hardly ever give myself a break (in part) as a caregiver? Not too much because I believed I had to PAY for past transgressions. I told myself I couldn’t find good help (in part, true), or that mother wouldn’t adjust (also true) or…the list went on. I know now that I thought I had to pay for my own good health, or pay if I were to even think about having a good time.
Sick, I know.
I’m hoping someone out there will step up and tell me
I’m not the only one who does this.
Recently, as most of you know, I published a book, Mothering Mother.I’ve spent months and months at caregiving talks, book signings, TV and radio spots. I’ve gotten lots of attention–something adults don’t like to talk about. I’ve received “fan” mail from wonderful caregivers and readers, I’ve received roses at special events…been on CNN, and it’s been hard, hard work, but it’s also been a whole lotta fun!
I’m suited for this. I love the juxtaposition of thought and quiet and contemplation and creating something on the page–and then I LOVE dressing up, “performing” mom and me in my little one act plays where I do both of us–I love making people laugh and cry. I love signing books! I could do it all day! I love knowing that I’ve touched someone’s lives. I even love the drives, the bookstores, the blogs.
Yikes. Does part of me believe that because I love it so, so much that I should have to “pay” for all this fun?
Now, a little bit of the hullabaloo has worn off and I realize that I’ve lapsed into this “I need to pay my family back for all that.” I’ve taken time away, stayed overnight, spent copious hours online and in bookstores. They’ve been patient and proud, but I’m sure it gets old.
It’s not that they asked or demanded anything.
But I see that I’ve been in drudgery mode lately–working hard with no joy. Taking jobs that are clearly not me. I thought I had to. I had so much to pay back.
I once had this great therapist who said the magic words that
changed my life…
“It’s a new day!”
So, I ask you–is there some part of you that took on the role of primary caregiver, or hardly ever lets yourself take a break because you believe you have to pay something back? Am I attracting this because I believe I need to pay? Do I feel guilty that my loved one is sick/dying?
Do I need to pay?
For being that black sheep?
For that adventure in college?
For screwing up my finances?
For taking off and letting my siblings deal with mom and dad for a while?
Because I enjoy good health and financial security?
Let it go. (I says to me-self)
Look at the sky and say, “Thanks!” That’s it.
A heart of gratitude is all that’s asked. That’s The Secret.
Make a list of what you deserve:
I deserve to have daily joy.
I deserve to view myself with tenderness and compassion.
I deserve to be appreciated.
I deserve regular breaks.
I deserve help on a consistent basis.
I deserve a real vacation every year.
I deserve to caregive out choice and heart of love.
I deserve for my siblings/family to contribute.
I deserve for my thoughts and opinons to be respected.
As for caregiving, yeah, you may still want to and need to give care–but this could be the revelation that changes everything–and open up new opportunities.
It’s a new day.