In this second part we’ll look at the In-Between stage. For caregivers it is the space between what was and what will be. Suzanne Braun Levine calls this space the Fertile Void and describes it as, “the long, slow, deep breath -the gathering in of strength - that precedes a daring leap into the unknown.”
Much like a tornado, the storm of overwhelm can rage up from nowhere and blow you off your feet. Much like a hurricane the emotions and energy that occur when we are near our breaking point are powerful and chaotic. Becoming in tune with our feeling - emotional, physical, and spiritual - is a crucial balancing mechanism providing the early warning signal that tells us things are mounting up. As with intense weather systems, it is critical that we prepare: we must find that balance before the emotional storm takes over.
Are Your Emotions Spinning? It's Okay to Reach Out for Help Some days are more challenging than others, but we can find bright spots if we open ourselves to them. When we focus on events that bring us down, we tend to perpetuate a negative spiral, while stepping away can give way to light.
Remote caregiving was often spotlighted as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the early days when much of the world was in some sort of lockdown, but the reality is that those of us who don't live near our parents are often faced with providing care and support from afar, and while it may seem easy from outside, it's really very challenging in its own way.
There is more than one right way. Sometimes we get stuck following a method or practice for doing something because "we've always done it that way." But sometimes trying a new way of doing something helps give us a new perspective and better results. In my case, I knew one way of turning my boat, which was to paddle only on the side opposite of the direction I wanted to go. What my teacher showed me, was that I could also turn the boat by pushing the paddle forward on the same side I wanted to go.
Though often unrecognized, fear stands in our way like a brick wall. It blocks us from conversations and leads us to assume the worst possible outcome. Which fear is it? There are several: Fear of the unknown? Yes. Fear of becoming the same man himself later in life? Very likely. Fear of his father dying and then turning back later wishing he had done something differently? Absolutely.
A strong, loving woman that gave so much to life and others told me two days later that cancer returned with a vengeance, and she had less than six months to live.
Think of driving down a road with potholes at 65 mph. You need to get to your destination! But your car is shaking, you're shaking, suddenly your ability to keep going has gone. We talked about this in our Online Care Circle recently: how easy it is to get caught up in the gotta go mode, and how poor the results can be.
It is of utmost importance to give yourself the time and space to become aware of what’s happening with your emotions and not shut yourself down. Your feelings are valid, and it is essential to acknowledge them. Shutting down is the worst thing that you can do.
We have expanded our resources for family caregivers and are in the process of creating additional programs to support a larger community of caregivers as well. More about that coming soon, but for now, I hope you join me in my excitement for our new website!