Take Care of Yourself And You Will Be Taking Care of Others – “Care-Givers”

Caregiver is a name that many of us own.  From basic parenting scenarios to families complicated with end-of-life, spinal cord injuries, congenital diseases or employees of group homes – care-givers is the generically applied term.

Is it difficult to ID care-givers that “did it right.”  Seeing them is a muscle that operates better by practicing the magical and material skills of empathy, doing rather than saying, so to speak.

By the way, I’m on hold right now with the service provider for our currently nonfunctioning internet.  The hold-music is so bad that I had to put the phone in a closed drawer to muffle it.  #selfcare.  Much better.

There are many people who have cared for me and do care for me.  You for starters have cared for and do care for me in your reading, your time, your thoughts, and comments, you are my givers of care.

I am cared for, and you know I get all fluttery when I start talking about you so I’ll stop before you throw-up.  Unless it’s too late.

There are others who gave and give care, obvious names like parents, spouse and friends. And there are many less obvious names – my dogs talking to me when I get home, the lady who came up to me in the 99-cent store and handed me $20.00 to buy treats for my kids, my psychotherapist who told me to “grow up.”  All these and more have and do care for me.

But do we call these people, (or other living creatures,) caregivers?  Is that a name for what you do for me? Not traditionally but it really is.

The differences are found between those who believe they take care of others when they don’t take care of themselves and the inverse – those who take care of themselves, and as part of that effort to be their own friend see caring for others as a natural maturation of their own needs(Remember, agendas again.) In any other design, taking care of others when we don’t take care of ourselves is not sustainable nor congruent with our intentions.  We become the hare who lost the race to the turtle, angry and confused by our results.

Care for the Caregiver Day
Image by Christiana Care via Flickr

I agree that this attempt to share space with the angels who so lovingly nurture and give to those who can’t give to themselves can be perceived as arrogant, ignorant and other names – creep, idiota, a– h—, pompous, fools, bigots, oblivious, uninformed, (this is fun), benighted, blind, old gum under the picnic table jerks.

Be that as it may, please believe that we speak of caregivers without malice.  And if we are ignorant, please let our flaws inspire you to grow us as empathically as you would like us to grow you.  I know it takes a lot of love to deal with someone like us and it is much easier to walk away.

Questions:  Where do you find yourself in the care you give to others?  What helps you remember your intentions to love yourself when stigma or guilt bang you upside the head?  How do you see that caring for yourself is consistent with your goals to serve others?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Care for yourself and you will see yourself giving care to others.

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Your Pain is Not Special. It Is Normal.

Self-Care Tip #243 – See yourself as special rather than your pain and know that you will find your normal again.

What is your normal?

When we were kids, we all had a perspective of what normal was.  Let’s say it was “here.”  Let’s imagine we were lovely then, nurtured and emotionally bonded.  We struggled through peer conflicts, social anxiety and rivalry.  We wanted a bike.

Two Sisters

Image via Wikipedia

Then we got a little older.  Maybe our parents divorced.  Maybe, a sibling died.  Maybe we were abused or in an accident and damaged.  Damage changes normal.  What we never would have thought would be acceptable in our lives became acceptable.  We suffered.  We lived.  Life was indiscriminate and ignored our status.  We think there must be a mistake.

What is our normal at one point, filtered through remaining hopes, grew into regenerating fantasies, through real potential and it moved again.  We are older now and more suffering comes.

Where is our normal?  We survive our child, our own dear perfect boy, hanging from a tree.  Normal?  No dear God!  No!  And we continue to live.

Two years.  Two years are what it takes for our biology to catch up to the shock.  Two years are what it takes for us to begin to accept and realize that in this new normal we care again.  We choose it in fact.

People don’t remember his name or talk about him and we can’t remember his eyes.  We are ashamed and lose our breath from panic just trying to see them.  We want to bang our head because we know there is something wrong about feeling normal! Ever! Again! after that.  But we do.

Our normal mutates over financial ruin, abandonment and a growing healthy list of disfiguring illnesses.  We accept them and say yes please.  Live.  We want to live.  This is acceptable.  This is normal.  Our friends die.  Our memory.  We can’t find our teeth.  Our heart stops.  We die and the world finds normal.  The world chooses just like we did.

What we don’t think will ever be allowed to happen while we brush hair, clip our nails and microwave food, happens. We endure these changes.  We find normal again.

What is your normal?

My brother, Vance Johnson MD, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist.  He said that during his residency, close to 100% of spinal cord injury paralysis survivors he worked with wanted to die after their injury.  Many of them would beg him to let them die.  They would cuss at him for keeping them alive.

I leaned very heavily on the studies and data during those times.  It was very hard.

Vance said that what kept him faithful to his task was knowing that close to 100% of them after two years would be glad they were kept alive.

Even the ones who were basically breathing through a straw and that’s all that moved on them; even they wanted to live.  These people found a new normal.

Where is our normal?  We will want it.  We will adapt.  Biology will catch up to our reality.

Remember that your pain is not special.  You are special.  Not your pain.  Pain is normal.

Question:  When this happened to you, how did normal find you despite the rubble?  How does this concept feel to you, that your pain is not special?  Does it make you angry or what?  Please tell me your story.