A caller to my radio show once asked, “How can I communicate to my loved one that I can’t handle it anymore—that it’s coming off the rails?”
My reply was, “The person who needs to hear it’s coming off the rails is not your loved one . . . it’s you—and preferably in the presence of a counselor.”
We can’t take for granted that the one we care for can understand our frustration. My brother has a twenty-seven year-old daughter born with cerebral palsy and severe cognitive impairments. Taking care of her is like caring for a giant baby. Kelsey cannot process what my brother and sister-in-law go through. She just lives her life.
Chronic pain and disease have a way of blocking the field of view for folks, and all they can see is their own need. Some days, quite bluntly, they’re just having a bad day and, even if they could, they won’t process the feelings of their caregivers.
Developmental issues, narcotics, alcohol, or a variety of other impairments may prevent an empathy towards your circumstances.
Reacting to their behavior will only heap more frustration, rage, and ultimately guilt upon us as caregivers. Embarrassingly, I have to admit it took me way too many of my 30 years as a caregiver to figure out how to sidestep so many of the flashpoints—and regardless of how an impaired loved one behaves, I never get a “free pass to be an ass.” It finally sunk in that I can detach from those feelings and behavior.
Sometimes, abusive behavior is involved and then professionals (physicians, counselors, and even law enforcement) may need to be contacted.
If, however, it’s just poor behavior, I try to remember that some level of impairment or personality issue is usually driving that behavior.
I try to remember what a friend once told me, “They’re not doing it to you —they’re just doing it.”
I’m learning I can still see past all of that and minister to the heart, and I don’t have to go to every fight that I get a ticket to—I can sit a few of them out and save myself some drama. (I’ve also learned that principle applies outside of caregiving scenarios!)
When cleaning up a mess or dressing a wound, I’d rather weep than grind my teeth. (I’ve done both!)
I find it helps me when I think about how Christ willingly endured the cross on my behalf.
From HOPE FOR THE CAREGIVER ©2015 Worthy Inspired