11:50pm and I’m laying here unable to sleep while completely exhausted!
Beside me my wife is battling an infection in top of multiple other issues. She recently been in the hospital and we’re going that she doesn’t have to go back in for a long time!
Nearby our daughter is battling fear. So much so that today she begged to stay home with her mom instead of going to school and this evening she vomited multiple times.
A sudden illness is hard, and illness that last for years wearing, and an incurable illness can often destroy lives, families, and careers.
I’ve seen them all over and over through my life. Some of my earliest memories are of standing in St Mary’s hospital. My grandmother was being treated for multiple cancers, first breast cancer and then bone cancer.
What I remember most was her anger though. That first memory of these treatments was a day that, while taking treatment, she was cussing out the nurses because they wouldn’t let her have a cigarette.
My mom had taken the roll of being the one to calm my grandmother down and make sure she and my grandfather had what they needed to make it through the hospital stays while her brother kept an eye on things at home, swaddling out when needed.
Mom was always the one to settle my grandmother though, at the time I thought mom was magic honestly, later I would find out that mom simply didn’t put up with my grandmothers crap!
But the experience wore on mom, life wore on mom. Her body didn’t take the stress well, she worked hard all her life, and not long after my grandmother died after a 15 year battle with cancer and mental issues, mom began to get sick.
We’d learn this process had actually been going on for years, but in these later years they really took their toll.
Mom had through her life put herself last. Last with her mom, last with our family and what we needed, last with work making sure the children she fed everyday had the best she could possibly give.
And that practice eventually killed her when her body became to tired, to damaged, to weak.
During those years, when the tables turned and we spent hours in the car talking, mom would beg me not to be like her. “Don’t give up everything for anyone else! Stop holding yourself back for me! This lifestyle will kill you!”
And honestly she isn’t wrong. Being a caretaker is hard on the mind, the body, and the soul. Caring for others will shorten your life. It will make you question your faith. And it is the loneliest lifestyle that can be chosen!
But it is also a calling! For me, when I am not caring for someone I’m lost, I’m depressed, I feel worthless!
And I’ve tried doing something else, anything else! There have been moments in life when I’ve said, “That’s it! I can’t do this anymore. I have given everything I can. I have missed out on so much. It is time for someone else to take this load.”
And when I’ve walked away to become something else, to be something else, I hate it! I’ve learned that if I’m not being a caretaker or writing then anything else I do feels empty and worthless.
So yes there are days, like the season we are in, where I’m exhausted, worn out and thinking, “Why me?” Yes in the very next breath I’m working 16 steps ahead to make sure everything’s in place and everyone’s in place to make it work. I get amped up and often feel a high because this is who I was made to be!
Does that mean I’m not affected by it? No.
Does that mean I don’t get fatigued and burned out? No.
So how do I fight the effects and the burn out?
If I fought all these battles on my own, I would lose every one! No, I can’t fight alone. Caretaking is as much a spiritual and mental battle as it is physical work.
And in the coming weeks we’ll explore how to fight those battles, how to get up when you fail, and how to ensure that there’s life after the chaos of the season.