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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

You’re furious at your siblings for not helping you in caregiving  mom or dad. You’re outraged at your mom or dad or spouse because he/she said something really, really ugly that pushed all your buttons–and they expect and demand so much. You feel like you could just walk out the front door and keep walking.

That’s two types of caregiver rage–there’s many more. Rage is so off the charts that it consumes you. Rage is when you want to hit something (or someone) smash something, cry, scream and just absolutely lose it. You can lose yourself in rage, but it’s also a tool. Rage tells you that something is terribly wrong. Listen to it. Then figure out how to get out of this volatile place before it harms you.

How do you get out of being “en-raged?”

I won’t tell you to slap a smile on your face and go out into a field and pick daisies. That’s insulting. You may have every right to be that ticked off.

Getting out of rage takes time and comes in incremental steps.

Think of a marathon runner. They didn’t just put in their running shoes, open the front door and sprint 26 miles the first day. They started with a half mile walk around the block–a mile or two. Then they began to walk-jog. That’s where I am. I walk-jogged 3 miles this morning. That’s all I’m capable of. I envision myself walk-jogging five miles, and eventually jogging more than walking. But it’s going to take time.

If someone tells me to be happy when I’m not, it makes me even more livid! 

I have been so head-exploding hurt and enraged that it took me years to deal with it. Not kidding. I had some pretty big hurts to get over. I never ever thought I’d say this, but I’m not longer in-raged. If something happens that pokes the embers, yes, I can still get pretty worked up. But in general, I can observe my thoughts, my emotions now, I can see now that the other person was sick or hurt and they did some really awful things. No excuses, but I too have done some mean things, and we’re all accountable for our own actions. I’m out of the vengence game. I’m all out of hate–the barrel is empty.

You can’t let go of this crap overnight, or even in a few days or weeks–not when it’s huge.

Rage can turn into anger. Anger is like ocean waves. You can feel moments of absolute fury, but then there’s a lull. Sometimes, like waves, anger rolls in one on top of the other. Then, it’s calm for a while.

Anger can be notched down to hurt. Tears may come. Or screams. Good tears. Good screams. A baseball bat slammed on a pillow might feel really good.

Or anger might morph into resentment. It’s all part of the process. Resentment can be reasoned with–a little. Resentment may turn into disagreement. You can vehemently disagree with someone. You may not understand their viewpoint but you don’t feel the need to rip their eyebrows off their face. You can choose to walk away from a disagreement. You can choose your words, feel pity for them, and eventually, wish them no harm. It takes time.

So if you’re off-the-charts crazy mad right now. Don’t even try to be nice. Just try not to hurt anyone–with words of actions. That’s a big accomplishment, and it’s enough–for now.

Being at peace and joy may feel as far away as from here to Australia–it may feel impossible to get there. But do you know that if you want to go, you can book a reservation and fly to Australia? Yes, it’s a long way, especially from the East Coast, but it is possible to see koalas and the Sydney Opera House. First, you have to believe that Austrailia (peace and joy) is out there–somewhere–even if you can’t see it, or even get there today.

Forget about trying to make the finish line in one giant leap. You’ll land flat on your face.  Just get your shoes on, head out the front door and tell yourself you’re just going to stroll around the block. That’s all. First steps.

Carol O’Dell

Author, Mothering Mother

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Some people are shocked by my candidness in my book, Mothering Mother–about my resentment, my anger, my fears about caregiving. I wrote my book in “real time,” as I was caregiving, so the exhaustion, the confusion, the rabid fear are all there–blemished and flawed. Even though my story is at times, scary, I would have given anything for such a guide–for someone to tell me the truth about caregiving–however gritty it might be. 

My mother had Parkinson’s for years. We had grown accustomed to the medications, the schedule, the times or days when nothing worked–and while it was challenging, we had no idea what was to come. My mother also had some heart disease. She had had a mild heart attack and was taking medication, but it was nothing like my dad’s heart condition–he struggled for every breath. But the coup de grâce was when she started showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s. It was like juggling five plates in the air while tap dancing on an open fire. Alzheimer’s tested my mother, me, my family, and all of our relationships in every way possible.

So I thought I’d recap a few truths I learned about caregiving along the way.

  1. Caregiving will uncover every fear and flaw you have. This isn’t to destroy you, but it is an opportunity to learn about yourself.
  2. Do what’s in your heart. Don’t care-give because you think you should do it because you love someone, and do it in the way that’s best for you–part-time, full-time, in your home, in theirs, placing them in a care facility–it’s nobody’s business–you’re the one giving the care and it’s between you and your loved one.
  3. At times, you will over-extend yourself–BIG TIME. You will be sleep deprived, perhaps abuse some substance–food, alcohol, sleep meds–just to get by. You will at times, ignore your health, ignore your other relationships, and take yourself to the bitter edge. It’s just part of the process. Sometimes, there’s no one else to help you, and you go and do and push past what’s sane or smart. Just try not to stay there.
  4. You will be really ugly. You will curse, get violent (hopefully with a pillow). snap and yell…and you’ll feel really bad.
  5. You’ll want to quit, give up, and run away. It probably won’t happen on a bad day, or a day you lose your temper. It will just come over you. A calm, “I’m done,” feeling. Sometimes it happens because you’re so bone-tired you can’t see straight, and for others, it’s because you’ve done all you can and something in you knows you need to stop.
  6. You probably won’t get to quit caregiving when you want to or need to. Exits usually have to be planned. Your love and commitment will keep you from just driving off. Fantasize about it all you want–it’s a great stress reliever, but when it’s time for a change, make a plan that’s good for everyone.
  7. Alzheimer’s in particular taught me to dig deep inside myself and decide what kind of daughter (and person)  I was going to be. Was I going to be mean just because my mother was mean to me? Was I going to let go of all the petty hurts that had built up over the years? Was I going to be able to hold true, love deep, and stay committed to my mother’s care even if her mind completely unhinged? These were the challenges I faced every day–the ethics of the heart that I had to ask myself again and again.
  8. There are things you’ll never tell anyone. Both tender, private moments–and times when you really lost it, or didn’t do what you know you should have done. Eventually, you have to accept all aspects of caregiving. You’ll have to incorporate all of you–forgive yourself for things you’d never want to admit, and even praise yourself for the few times you really stepped up to the plate. Most people have a harder time accepting the good in them–than admitting to their dark side. Sad, to think that we can hate ourselves easier than love ourselves.
  9. Death is really scary, but you can do it. If you’re one of those people who haven’t been around a lot of people dying in your family, then all this is going to seem really foreign. Death and dying are like a lot of things-it’s more scary in concept than in reality. When it’s your mom, dad, brother, sister, spouse, it’s in some ways cathartic. It’s finishing something. It’s biological and quiet. Part of it can be a grueling pressure, and if the dying process lasts for days or weeks, it’s really, really hard–but by then you’ll need to stay and see it through. You’ll be glad you did it. There’s something about closure that’s really, really important. Don’t miss this part of your journey. There’s much to learn. It’s also healing, whole, and part of what it means to be here on earth.  

I now look back at my caregiving years with a sense of reconciliation. It didn’t happen all at once. The first year after my mom had died, I felt that I killed her–that I had let her down. I couldn’t keep her alive. I had to accept me, her,  her–Alzheimer’s and all.

How else will we learn if we don’t accept the opportunities and circumstances that come our way?

~Carol O’Dell

Author, Mothering Mother

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Fighting. Arguing. Not talking. Hurt Feelings. It comes with caregiving.

You can’t have a long-term relationship and this level of intimacy without a few squabbles, and even a couple of all-out wars. Yes, you’re a grown woman–and so is your mom (it might be you and your dad) –but that doesn’t stop the button pushing, back-handed comments, turn-the-knife-in-the-back digs from creeping in.

How do you get over a big fight?

I remember one fight my mom and I had after she moved in with me (we had plenty of doozies before this)–and it really hurt. I was adopted at the age of four and I’m glad I was. I made peace with that a long time ago. I’ve found my birth family and feel that I have at least most of the puzzle pieces of my life to help me figure out who I am, who I belong to–and who belongs to me. My mother is my adoptive mom and I’ve long known her good–and despicable qualities. But that day, she cut me to the bone. 

She told me that my caring for her now was the reason she adopted me in the first place. I felt used. I felt manipulated.

Yes, I knew she and Daddy loved me. We had years of love and care between us, but this felt so cold. I wasn’t mad. I was hurt–and disgusted.

After that, I could barely stand to care for her. I gave her food. I gave her meds. I changed her sheets. But I couldn’t offer not even one kind word. I spent days feeling everything from numb to explosively enraged. I journaled, walked, cried, and screamed.

Did I get over? Yeah. Somehow. I had already made a commitment and it wasn’t based on what she could say or do to me. It was based on a decision. I had to to dig way down deep to find the integrity to get me past this hurdle.

I so wanted to just walk out that door and keep walking.

Forgiveness isn’t all sweetsy. It isn’t about two people hugging and groveling and snotting all over each other. Forgiveness is a decision. It doesn’t have to be warm and fuzzy. It comes in increments. We forgive because we have to–for ourselves.

I can’t ever be expected to receive mercy for the despicable things I’ve said and done (and we’re all in the same boat here) if I can’t offer it. And I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to make lots of deposits in my mercy bank–in case I need a lot of credits in my favor.

It wasn’t easy, but routine and memory help smooth the path. Every day, I got up and prepped her meds. I changed her sheets and gowns. I fed her breakfast. My body knew what to do even when my heart rebelled. I don’t know how long it took. I just let my physical care be enough for awhile. I needed to not push myself–and I knew that it was my job to protect my heart.

Slowly, the memories of all our good times, of the other hard times we’d gotten through surfaced. I was in it for the long haul. I was there to finish the journey. Even if she didn’t love me (and I knew she did), I loved her.

I share this rather personal story because there’s someone out there in “blog-land” who is hurting. They don’t know if they can keep going. It was more than a fight. It was a rip in the fabric of their relationship.

I hope somehow, my story, my experience helps.

~Carol O’Dell

Author, Mothering Mother

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I was at a friend’s house last week. She has cancer is awaiting a double mastectomy. Her family and friends have flocked to her side–like birds heading South and all landing at the same lake–cars lined her driveway all hours of the day and night. She is surrounded, and I’m glad for her. I know she has a network–she is respected, appreciated, and dearly loved.

But that doesn’t mean someone won’t make an ass out of themselves.

I don’t mean it in a “I would never say something that stupid” way because trust me,  I’ve been known to say a few blunders in my day/ But I watched and listened as someone said,

“If this were going to happen to anyone, then God sure did pick a strong person because you have so much faith–it’s amazing.”

I wanted to smack that person on the side of the head like they do in those V-8 commercials.

 

I know what this person meant, but faith or lack of faith has little to do with the situation. You don’t get cancer because you’re strong enough to handle it. If that’s the case, then sign me up with the punies, wusses, and scaredy-cats while I duck all the terrible life bombs that get hurled at those “strong people.” Still, my heart went out to this well-meaning person. We’ve all said less than helpful/cheerful things at just the wrong time.

 

So, I’ve compiled a “What Not to Say” List:

  • God knew you could handle it. (God ((and I don’t mean it, really)) was wrong)
  • You’re so strong. (If I’m weak does that mean I don’t have to go through this?)
  • Your baby/husband/child was so special that God took him (God gets blamed for a lot, apparently–no wonder we have issues with “Him.”
  • I could never do what you do. (I had no choice)
  • You’ll find love again. (Back off–I’m not ready to go there)
  • It’s better this way. (Is it?)
  • At least they’re out of pain. (But I’m not)
  • He/She had a good long life–it was time. (Who gets to be the judge of that?)
  • If there’s anything I can do for you, just call. (Figure out what needs doing and do it.

So What Do You Say?

  • Sometimes nothing. Just a hello, maybe a gentle smile or hug–play it by ear and see if they’ve been bombarded all day.
  • If it’s appropriate, say, ‘I’m sorry that Bill died.” Don’t be afraid of the word, “died.” Or go with a simple, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  • Let the bring up their loved one. Some people just can’t talk about it for awhile and others find it cathartic.
  • Send a card–tell them you’re thinking of them, love them, holding them in your thoughts–something about them. If you’re close and want to be more personal, then share a good memory–something in writing they’ll be able to keep.
  • Be sensitive. If there’s something you seeor they need, or find difficult doing, then volunteer to help them out–clean gutters, help them take items to the Goodwill, ride with them on errands–every one has something that’s hard for them to do alone.
  • Be there in the weeks and months to follow–grieving is a long process–and even though they have to go on with their lives, return to work and activities doesn’t mean they’re “over  it.”

Finally, be patient. Your friend/loved one/co-worker who has experienced a death may act erratic at times. They may be testy, nervous, anxious one minute–only to be followed by teary, hot-headed or depressed the next. I heard one person describe grief as if they’re wearing their nerve endings on the inside-out. Don’t take their mood swings personal. Listen well and be their steady companion through this difficult journey.

 

And if you screw up and say something dumb, just apologize. A quick, “Hey, that didn’t come out right” will be quickly forgiven. And forgive yourself. It’s more important to try and flub, than to avoid.

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If you are fortunate, you’ve had many conversations with your loved one.

If they’re your parent, your conversations probably started before you could speak. You heard their voice, their lyrical baby talk, their lullabyes sung in the dark of night as you were held tight.

Your conversations changed over the years–from childhood discipline, “Don’t ride your bike without your helmut,” to the pre-teen birds and bees mubo-jumbo they could barely get out, and your talks became more about schools, jobs, marriage, and kids of your own.

You’ve banked a lot of hours. Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The Eighth Habit calls this making deposits into your emotional bank account. Every time we say an encouraging word, offer much needed advice, pass on a family story about crazy Aunt Jo adds to our collective memories.

Our family conversations are woven into who we are and the choices we make. This investment of time, talk, listening, encouraging, and even admonishing cement our love and commitment. And when we need something from this person–to speak wisdom into their life, to ask for care, attention, or respect–we can draw from that account. We’ve earned the “interest” so to speak.

And now you find yourself in the caregiving years. Whether this is with your spouse, your mother, father, or sister, all of those gathered conversations become even more precious when you come to the end of life. Even the medical profession is now recognizing the need to talk candidly to their patients about end of life and quality of life decisions.

At some point, you will have a final conversation.

You might not know it, and perhaps you shouldn’t. It’s not about saying just the right thing. It’s not about saying good bye even, it is and isn’t a culmination of all your talks–the baby talk, lullabies, warnings, corrections, arguments, growing pains, and reconciliations you’ve had over the years.

Technically, that last conversation may in a car, over the phone, or in a hospital bed, holding hands. It will, in years to come, be precious.

There are no guarantees. Our loved ones can walk out the door this minute, and we won’t have the privilege of knowing that death is on its way. Sometimes it’s quick, too soon, and all together unexpected.

For others, it may be the slow road of Alzheimer’s, or the painful road of cancer. We may find ourselves calling hospice, and making memorial plans as our loved one lingers.

So how do you say good bye? And should you?

Yes. If you know your loved one is dying, it’s important to have that last conversation. Those who work in hospice will tell you that this quiet moment is important to both of you.

What do I say?

Of course, it’s different for everyone, but many times our loved ones need us to to them:

It’s okay for them to go…that we love them and always will, but we’ll be fine.

We are the ones holding them to this life, and sadly, we may unintentionally be tying them to a life of pain and emptiness. Tell them it’s okay for them to go now Tell them not to worry. Assure them you will be okay.

It’s important to say I’m sorry–and I forgive you.

You may have said it a thousand times, or never have said it in your life. Do it. No one can have a relationship without some hurts and misunderstandings building up over time. This isn’t something you want to regret later, so say it, feel it, and let it go.

I’ve heard so many stories about how after saying these simple things–you can go now, I’m sorry, and forgive me–that their loved one passes away in peace. It’s also a interesting phenomenon that is observed in hospitals and hospice situations–a loved one hangs on, excruciatingly long, and then when their family leaves–for a meeting, or out of exhaustion and need for sleep–the loved passes away when they’re finally alone.

I can’t tell you how your last conversation should go.

Everyone has their own style, their own family’s culture and personality–some are wordy, others are witty, a few are formal and stoic…it doesn’t matter.

Be yourself, but be there.

Talk, or don’t talk (who says a conversation has to consist of words?)

Hold hands, hum a hymn, read from the Bible, or recite a poem or sing a lullaby, or sit silently.  If you feel like they still can’t let go, then consider stepping out. You’re not abandoning them. We can’t go with them, and for some, it has to be done alone.

Whatever winds up being your last conversation isn’t a mistake.

Nothing is a mistake.

Trust that the simple banter about feeding the cat or pick up the dry cleaning is just the talk you needed to have. You may look back and recognize that the words or look or touch you’re seeking occurred weeks or months before.

Be at peace and know that in many ways, your last conversation hasn’t happened yet.

You can continue to talk, journal, whisper and pray. Your story, your conversation, and your loved one goes on.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available in hardback or on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

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You don’t have to like your mother to love her.

Jess is a friend of mine. She’s in her mid-thirties, and like most young women she’s had a couple of decades of feeling like she had nothing whatsoever in common with her mother. Now, within the past few months I’ve noticed she talks about her mom differently.

Jess’s mother is flying in for her wedding shower and they’re going shopping all day at the outlet mall while she’s in town. She calls her mom several times a week as she’s driving home from work–just to chat. This wouldn’t have happened even three years ago.

Why the change?

The mother-daughter bond is resilient.

It’s not a warm, cuddly blanket, but a sinuous cord that connects us. At times, it’s the jet fuel we need to grow up and move on with our lives. We “use” our mothers. We hate them in order to love ourselves. We swear we will never be anything like them. We despise them when we don’t want to admit we despise ourselves. We lash out in words and actions knowing it cuts like a serrated knife. We think it will always be like this–us, way over here–them, way over there.

The resiliency of the mother-daughter relationship that grows stronger over time isn’t a surprise. Pennsylvania State University conducted a study of midlife daughters and their elderly mothers. Researcher Karen Fingerman, Ph.D., found that “despite conflicts and complicated emotions, the mother-daughter bond is so strong that 80 percent to 90 percent of women at midlife report good relationships with their mothers—though they wish it were better.”

Whodathought? After all those years of bickering, name calling, not calling at all…that we actually love each other underneath all that bravado. And…we actually want a better relationship with our mother! I never throught that day would come for me, but it did.

Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future…. As though experiencing an earthquake, mothers of daughters may find their lives shifted, their deep feelings unearthed, the balance struck in all relationships once again off kilter.

~Elizabeth Debold and Idelisse Malave

We need something to propel us into our own lives and identities and we push off of our mothers like they’re a springboard–the laws of physics at work in relationships. Our “you weren’t there for me’s,” and “why are you always so controlling” can take years to leave our systems. We stew in our own toxic venom.

Were they bad mothers? Perhaps. At times. But that doesn’t diminish their power or our need to have them in our lives. Even if for a few, our mothers are object lessons, they are still in our lives for a purpose.

Eventually, most of us learn to make at least a measure of peace with mothers–and mothers with their daughters. It’s not a conscience thing. It’s not an “I should.” It just is. It’s biological.

Mothers and daughters can fight, argue, cry, blame, and complain–and their bond gets stronger. You don’t even know it’s happening–you think you’re a million miles away. We can even ignore our mothers and go on with our busy adult lives, and that bond is still there. Genetics is one powerful pull.

I’ve seen it countless times–family members who have been hurt find a way to forgive. Daughters who are disgusted with their mother’s choices begin to understand why, and through their own poor choices, they offer a morsel of mercy.

Mothers who seemed hard, controlling, and fussy finally become real people to their daughters. Their daughters begin to realize the that their mothers have lives, dreams, and quiet heartbreaks no one knows about. Mothers loosen up over time and become somone their daughter confides in.

Again, why?

You can’t make peace with yourself, with who you are, with all that you’ve done that had made you ‘you,” until you can begin to accept your mother, your past. She is your key.

What the daughter does, the mother did.  ~Jewish Proverb

Our mothers, our daughters define us. We are who we are because of them–good or bad. We look into their faces and we see ourselves–past and future.

We forgive, tolerate, and accept things our mothers or daughters have done. We know them, bear their secrets, absorb their transgressions, and even speak our truths into their lives no matter how tough and gritty it is.

Caregiving comes into play in regard to the mother-daughter bond. When our loved ones need us–really need us–we come back. We help out. We lay down our grievances and rally to the cause. But it’s more than that–caregiving gives us a reason to make up, to let go, to “get over it.” As our mothers need us, we return and answer the call.

Whether our relationship is strained or easy, hostile or amiable, we need our mother if only in memory …
to conjugate our history, validate ourfemaleness and guide our way.

~ Victoria Secunda

Something happens when our mothers lives begin to grow smaller either physically, emotionally, or financially–a power shift occurs. We (the daughters) gain strength and power–and this time to “be on top,” allows us to feel less threatened–and when we’re not threatened–we can be generous with our love.

Eventually, the scales balance.

After years of our mother’s having dominance over our lives (the childhood years), we’ve built up resentment, and finally, as time rolls along, we come into our own, we tower above our mothers for a short time, and that isn’t as fun as it sounds. If we’re lucky, and our mothers live a little longer, we become equal bookends, each of us strong in the broken places and worthy of respect.

And then, just when we make peace, our mothers die. It surprises us. It shocks us. This is too soon, we cry.

We realize how ironically close we really were–all along–even when we thought we weren’t. We realize we loved them in a deep-bone way. We lose ourselves in grief. We just found ourselves in and through and mothers, and then they leave us. We feel abandoned, lost, maybe even angry.

Looking back, I realize I’ve lost two mothers four times.

My birth mother had schizophrenia and I was taken from her as an infant when the voices told her to hurt herself and her children. I lost her again when I was adopted at the age of four. I didn’t know it would be forever. I lost her again when I was 23, and found my birth family only for them to tell me that my mother was dead–she had died one year before I found them. I cried that day, that week, that year–I cried for the mother I would never know.

I lost my adoptive mother to Alzheimer’s before death took her. To look into the face of someone you know so well–someone who you’ve screamed at, cried and fought with, only to have a disease eat away at her brain like battery acid–and to know that she doesn’t know you, remember you, you hold no emotion, no connection. You might as well we a cardboard box. It ravages your soul and all you believe.

And then death came. In a way, a welcome relief to the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s. I knew it would never give me my mother back.

Why now? Why do we lose our mothers just at the point when we can sit beside them and feel at ease, a give and take? Just when we can be ourselves in the presence of our most formidable foes, our most dependable ally, we lose them.

I have no answer for this. The only solace I can give you is that my mother’s life is now my example, her stories, her “ways” ripple through my own life. I don’t idolize her or think she was perfect. That would be an insult to such a great woman. I see her as complex and confounding as ever–but that’s what I like about her, about me.

In a bigger sense, I haven’t lost her, or lost me. We sit side-by-side. Equals. I hear her so much more clearly these days. I feel her respect. I listen.

And now, I have three grown daughters. The torch has been passed. They rail against me at times.

I let them. I know the journey they must take to get to their own place of acceptance and strength. I’ll be here. Waiting.

The woman who bore me is no longer alive, but I seem to be her daughter in increasingly profound ways.  ~Johnnetta Betsch Cole

I’m Carol D. O’Dell, the author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available on Amazon. I explore the adult daughter-mother relatiohnsip in my book, and I hope you’ll check it out.

 

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Have you really put your foot in your mouth lately?
Were you cruel, sarcastic, bitter–or snarky?
Do you feel like you deeply hurt someone you love?
Sometimes, caregivers snap.
They’re tired, stressed, sleep-deprived, and fed up.
And unfortunately, their loved one–
their care receiver can be in the direct line of fire.
It happens.
But what’s worse is the guilt and regret you carry around with you–
and for some, even after their loved one passes, they just keep
beating themselves up.
Caregivers are notoriously hard on themselves.
I know, I was my own worst judge.
Remember, caregiving isn’t easy.
It’s relentless, and you can’t get it all “right.”
If you lost your cool on one day, you get a fresh start the next.
Jack Canfield recommends in his book, The Success Principles,
 to have a “redo” each night.
Think of something you wish you had said or done differently.
Then “redo” it in your mind. Say the right thing–do the right thing.
Then let it go and go to sleep.
By “practicing” the right thing, even saying it out loud, you’ll be
more likely to make a better choice the next time.
Get in the habit of saying, “I’m sorry.”
Say it immediately and follow it with a hug.
We all screw up, and the more stress out we are,
the more we blow our tops.

How to Stop Saying Mean Things:

  • Get to where you stop in mid-thought/mid-sentence
  • and choose a different direction.
  • If you’re yelling–stop. If you’re being sarcastic–stop.
  • Just stop talking. Quit. Don’t even finish what you’re saying.
  • Wear a rubber band and each time you start to say a mean thing, snap the hell out of yourself!
  • Make yourself call and apologize for any nasty remark–
  • Call the bank teller, call the pharmacist–make yourself ‘fess up. The uncomfortableness of having to own up will keep you from doing it again.
  • Go on a word fast. If you’re really having ugly thoughts, then stop talking for a day.
  • Sometimes we just spew venom into the atmosphere, and Lord knows, the world has enough cruelty already. Shut down. put on music or your ipod–drown out those negative thoughts.
  • Have one person you can vent to and call them.
  • Set a timer and give yourself 5 minutes to rant, and then tell your friend to make you shut up–even it if means hanging up on yourself.
  • Go old-fashioned and wash your mouth out with soap. That may sound strange for one grown person to tell another grown person, but if you’re talking like a mean little kid, then treat yourself like one. I guarantee you, you’ll not want to have to do that more than once.
  • If you’ve been on a roll lately (one despicable thought/word/action after another, then it’s time to backtrack and find the root cause.
  • Has your stress levels increased dramatically lately?
  • Are you doing something you really don’t want to do? Resent doing?
  • Who are you mad at? What’s the underlying hurt?
  • Do you feel taken for granted? Are you scared? Scared death is gaining ground?

Occasional “losing it” is okay–stop trying to be nice all the time.
It’s okay to mouth off every once in awhile. If you give yourself a break on the little things or the occasional slip-ups, then maybe you’ll circumvent the Mount Vesuvius moments when you’re exploding hot lava all over those you love–and those who don’t even know it’s coming!
Once you ask forgiveness–from yourself or someone else–accept it.
***If you’re really mad or hurt, then say it and don’t apologize.
But choose your words wisely and then stand behind them.

Saying you’re sorry and meaning it (and trying not to repeat that exact offense) is enough.
No more beating yourself up.
Did you know that this can be a form of attention-getting?
An actual kind of ego-stroking? Wierd, I know, but ask yourself why are you holding onto this?
Don’t chew on regret like an old dog with a dirty, nasty worn-out bone.
And last, laugh at yourself!

Sometimes, what you say or do in hurt, frustration or spite can be diffused by simply laughing!
Nothing takes the sting out of our faux pas better than realizing that everybody has a dark side–
a Dr. Jekyll we try to keep from bludgeoning those we love.
Say you’re sorry, mean it, and move on. 
(I’m repeating myself on purpose)
Have you ever been around someone who apologizes over and over? It’s annoying!
And for those of us whose moms or dads or spouses have died, know that the last thing our loved ones would want is for us to keep beating ourselves up for something that happend so long ago.
The best way to honor our relationships is by remembering the good and letting go of the rest.

author of Mothering Mother

available on Amazon and in most bookstores.

Carol is a family advisor at www.Caring.com.

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