Yesterday I was interviewed by two University of Washington students in the nursing program doing a master’s thesis on self-care for the caregiver. For over an hour they asked questions and I talked about my life as a caregiver. They received an earful.
We were an interesting mix—two young women full of theory and questions talking with a seasoned, gray-haired woman full of experience, opinions and passion. I heard myself say that no matter the challenge one is going through, if there is lack of self-awareness and sense of self-worth, it’s so easy to stay stuck in pain.
My life circumstances broke me open. I made the choice to live in the circumstances. I could have made another choice. My persistence wasn’t there at first. I was under a rock hiding from the light, playing with denial and living in frustration. I wanted better so I climbed out from under my rock and started turning over every other rock I encountered looking for understanding.
As my awareness grew, I was amazed at how much abuse I was willing to take because of my lack of self-worth. I believed I didn’t deserve better. As I grew into a parent, I experienced innocent children wanting to be taken care of. I became a protector and a nurturer, two traits I hadn’t known I possessed until I was responsible for innocent life.
The trap of a caregiver is they wholeheartedly love someone who is suffering and without awareness give everything of themselves to help. My lack of self-worth and self-awareness led me on a road to depletion. I gave myself away.
Every person needs to know they have a human right to feel worthy of existing, breathing the air and taking up space on this Earth. At the same time, every person should be shown the doorway to self-awareness so they can choose to visit it as they grow. Knowing we have a right to these two traits is a beginning. The old paradigm is believing we have to find love in order to fulfill our needs. The new paradigm is the understanding we fulfill our own needs, use our awareness as we uncover the rocks we encounter.
Together, we all live different lives, Whether we are doctors, students, or parents, That can still make up a continuous field of roses. A field of roses, shining yellow, red, white and pink, Which subtly grow in the midst of time, And day by day, their heads successfully rise, Slowly reaching the clear blue sky. But sometimes we may experience some terrible times, That perhaps are caused by downfalls from the past, Each downfall is like a falling petal. Petal after petal, a person we once loved, Whether it was a friend or a parent, Suddenly leaves our precious hearts, Which results in a permanent, painful scar. But as this growing pain slowly enters And gradually controls every root of our bodies, We'll discover, in the end, that our shadow still remains. As our body, our stem still stands alone, Weak, thirsty, gradually falling into the warm earth's soil. And just as there were times that put us In a state of loneliness and despair, New lives begin to blossom As the pollen's internal strength paints them gold. Life, it is not something of fear nor shame, But something that will continuously fall and rise. So, let the lives be remarkable, radiant roses, Roses that sparkle in the fields forever.
As I raised my three sons, worked fulltime, and was a wife, I gave myself away. My students had all my attention during the day. I found a class to take one time a week and it became my one night out. My husband and sons bonded. I got my doctorate. I did something for myself. It made me realize I needed the time for myself. And since I retired, I’ve been finding my spirituality and self.
Usually in my dreams, I’m in some out-of-control vehicle as a passenger. In my dream last night, I was driving a semi-tractor trailer. I was behind the steering wheel, and everything was fine. It was powerful. During the meditation, I focused on the roses. The cycle of roses. My farmer daughter says the cucumbers are amazing right now, they are loving the heat. Everything is in balance. I felt more connected to my own balance.
During the meditation, I thought of the roses as well. The older ones that still have a fragrance. We need and fare better if we have a passion, a through line to nurture us as we live in challenges. It’s a common thread.
Yesterday was a very hard day for me, between the news and the project I was working on which became very challenging. It was the fact that I am doing my passion that carried me through the day. I took care of my mom for five years as she declined. It took me a year to unthaw from the experience. It is connection and passion that keeps us going.
When my mother was in hospice, my boss gave me all the time I needed to visit with her and take care of her. It’s a blessing to have that flexibility and time.
I love the deep thoughts we share here. It’s a filter through which I see the day.