No one plans on caregiving particularly, for many it just happens. In my case it was an automobile accident which left my son Chris with a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). For many of us, our lives stopped that day. But then slowly each of those affected began gradually moving back into their normal lives…without us. Even though my world seemed to stop that day and made some very sharp turns – it didn’t really stop; it just changed.
I guess what I am saying is that all of life’s events still occur alongside caregiving. Once I had become adjusted to the caregiving aspect – which is never anything I had imagined in my “former life,” other life events went on. People got married, had babies, I became a grandmother, my parents continued aging, and friends died. For awhile the emotions around all these events were strained at best. Even the good stuff was difficult to bear. Now that I’ve settled into my life as a caregiver and I’m not looking for anything in particular to change anytime soon – the emotions don’t seem as raw. Perhaps it’s more that they have shorted out and fried and I just don’t know it! But at any rate, the emotions seem more rational and normal again.
Don’t get me wrong – nothing and I mean absolutely nothing is normal. There are some things that seriously pull my emotions all out of whack. For instance, when I see my son’s friends getting to go on with their lives – they travel the world, continue to pursue their dreams, play music, marry and have children, I just wonder. Where would Chris have been? What would he have been doing? Would he have married his true love? Would I have more grandchildren…the questions run in huge packs. But I have to make them stop. It’s not fair, or healthy, to allow my thoughts to run away with my emotions.
Today I was pondering some of these types of things and realized that they were not nearly as difficult as in the past. For one thing, I have developed my own personal strategies for dealing with these types of emotional upsets. It was kinda – do that or be overtaken by grief. So today, I found a tiny bit of comfort rather than discomfort in the fact that life has gone on. It’s really the same for everyone – we all have grief, sorrow, pain, joy and triumphs that we work through. I just have to work through my life occurrences while providing full care for my son.
Even though life is not an even playing ground and it’s not exactly the same for everyone, there are some things that we all have in common. We all have exactly 24 hours in a day to accomplish all our goals. We all have a circle of influence – some are smaller than others but we all influence and inspire someone; and someone influences and inspires us. The question is now what we are going to do with what we have?
One day I was whining about my whole situation (yes – I do whine!), then I found this quote that totally changed the way I was thinking. It said simply: Crying will get you sympathy, sweat will get you success. I have lived by that for some time. I chose to start working and then to work harder at working in order to succeed. I didn’t want sympathy – I wanted what was fair. Well – life is fair in some ways even when it’s not fair in others. For instance, we all have tools, we have a mind, emotions, creativity, and time. It is up to me what I choose to do with those elements.
First of all, I choose to rely on God for my strength – I just don’t know any other way.
Secondly, I choose to continue to press my son toward improvement – who knows what may come of it?
Thirdly, I choose to not live my life with my head in the sand – or in my circumstances. We have to look past ourselves and our own situations no matter how difficult or painful they are – other people are hurting too.
It’s my choice to live by crazy faith that is not about getting “prosperity” which is not soul prosperity at all – and walk with God each day of my caregiving journey. It’s not that knowing God is walking beside me makes it any less difficult – or any more normal – but it sure helps to know He’s there to lift me up when I get down, to strengthen me on those many occasions when I feel so very weak. All I can do is pray that He helps me to help others deal with their own situations. We have permission to grieve, hurt, laugh and play. We really can live life with everyone else – even from the cave – or from the furnace. We may be singed and smelly – but life is still worth living in Him.