Many caregivers that I speak with find it incredibly difficult to express themselves, to share what they are going through, and to let go of the negative feelings they have been keeping inside. This adds a tremendous burden to their role as a caregiver. Perhaps your parent’s generation thought it wasn’t proper to “hang out your dirty laundry” for the neighbors to see and this conditioning has been instilled in you.
The fact that you hold them in, not expressing these feelings in some shape or form builds the issues way out of proportion. You tend to create “a snowball effect” sort of like building a mountain out of a molehill. As a result of not letting them go you may tend to beat yourself up causing more negative results on your body’s condition. Then your our immune system can weaken with your emotions going way down and you become more isolated in your own little world. Life really appears down to you. It appears as if there is no where to go as you have sunk so low.
Some of you are still into denial. You think that nothing is wrong and everything is fine or beautiful. You don’t feel peaceful inside, you aren’t feeling loving or joyous for yourself and towards others; yet you proclaim your life is good when people ask how you are doing. Others may even talk to you about this and you still deny it.
And some of you may find that you seek comfort from the material world. You may build up some “Pollyanna” situation where you need to be accepted by others and you will say or do anything in order to look like the good one at someone else’s expense. Other people may sense or react to this because they view you differently then the charade you are putting forth.
What ever the case may be, if you can relate to any of this, it is necessary to start healing these feelings by talking them out and releasing them. It can be with a psychotherapist, a minister or someone online. The important barometer is that you feel comfortable speaking with this individual or individuals.
Some of you have felt strong enough to break through this barrier and email me with your current situation. Once you start sharing about it, it is as if a big boulder has been lifted from your shoulders. You can breathe again; gathering hope and possibly faith to continue on.
One of the reasons, I encourage specific caregivers to write for the “Spotlight” or the “Caregivers Concerns” for the newsletter is because it is a gentle, nurturing support for you to begin writing and getting all the feelings you have been holding in, out. When you can see clearly within yourself to reflect on all that you have been doing, you can take on a different perspective and see all the good that you have done and continue to do. You can see where you need more support and where you need to reach out. It isn’t easy talking to yourself and admitting the negative feelings. It is even more difficult to talk to others, especially a stranger. The truth is when you don’t let go of them and express them they build deeper within… resentment, depression, and a multitude of negative feelings take over…illness and pains kick in as well. By getting them out and really seeing all the wonderful work you have done is a healing.
It is a shame, particularly when you continue to live with the guilt feelings; when you give and give so much and you land up feeling burned out, not getting your own needs met… but to punish yourselves on top of it with guilt is something I want to encourage you to work through. Feel the guilt, but don’t let it get to you so much that you don’t do anything about it. Let it propel you into waking up and seeing that you have more choices as to handle your issues in the given situation.
When you beat yourselves up, others do as well. When you are strong and confident, you flourish and are nourished. The approval, the reward, the acceptance always seems to arrive when you are no longer in need of it… yet, when you are in need of it, you ache inside with pain and loneliness in hopes of receiving it.
Of course there are some who just aren’t willing to let go of their victim and make choices in their lives… preferring to blame everyone else…to be at the effect of everyone else… However, these are choices as well. In order to heal your guilt and negative feelings, you must see them from a different light and use your awareness to propel you to move forward in your life. Through writing, talking with others and sharing, you are able to see that much of what you have held inside, others are experiencing as well. You begin to see that you are not alone in these feelings. And most of all, you begin to see you aren’t as bad as you thought you were.
You must also remember that many caregivers particularly online have had the same or similar experiences. They have already learned that by sharing with others in similar positions, there is no judgment. They offer caring and support to those who of you who reach out. It makes them feel good to be able to assist others as well. This is one of the biggest blessings that the Internet has brought into the lives of so many. The bonding, the love and the friendships made from reaching out are truly astounding.
The power is in each and every one of you. Choose to open up, letting go of the old thought patterns that were instilled within you since childhood and begin to heal and grow through the hurts, the grief and the guilt you have held onto for so long.
Most of all please be gentle and nurturing with you. You didn’t plan for it to be like this but you can plan to shift and change these old beliefs, moving forward to more joy, peace and love in your heart from within and throughout.
Gail R. Mitchell