I ask you to pause and think about this statement: The weight of responsibility that we place on ourselves and the forgiveness we don’t give. We all fumble at times in our lives. We've had words that flew out of our mouths under duress because we've exhausted ourselves. We've experienced anger, impatience, fear - all big emotions that can overwhelm our sanity - it happens to all of us. Those words/thoughts can be directed toward others as well as us.
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.”
Balmy summer afternoons seem made for these quieter pursuits, a twist on the traditional siesta of the Latin world. I have strong memories of sharing the front porch with my grandmother on summer days, each of us with a glass of iced tea and a book, magazine, or crossword puzzle. I remember the feel of the condensation cooling my hand when I gripped my glass, and I remember the soft background noises that were ever present: cicadas, lawn sprinklers, small children playing, the occasional barking dog.
In the United States, more than nine million people – about one in five - fall into the category of 'caregiver,' yet many neglect to raise their hands and acknowledge that they are. As roles change in our lives, whether temporarily helping a loved one or going in for the long haul, the guidebooks are unclear and far too long.
All of this can chip away at your emotions over time. The emotional outcome might be feelings of failure, worthlessness, hopelessness, or any other emotion. Perhaps your head ends up filled with thoughts like, "I'll never be able to…" or "If only I had…." It's understandable. All of it. And the things your mind keeps chattering at you only serve to distract and exhaust you.
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.
Let’s be real here. We all have days where a lot is piling up, and that one conversation takes you off guard and flips you into oblivion. It is easy enough to get swept up in an argument or misinterpret what is happening with someone else. I'm sure those situations have happened to all of us, and I'm equally certain that beating ourselves up afterward with "I should have…;" "I wish I had…;" has no benefits. Looking at the situation without judgment allows us to tune in to what else may be happening.
Amid the turbulence, do you find yourself so paralyzed that you cannot raise your hand for help? Perhaps you're assuming that others will surely see your intention and your needs without making it ‘perfectly clear'? Or perhaps more often the case, ashamed that you ‘need’ to ask?
Regardless of what is happening, each day is full of possibilities, and even the smallest of occurrences can make the most significant difference. Set yourself up by appreciating the little moments of the day, from seeing the sunrise to turning off the news and watching a movie and feeling your anxiety lessen a bit.
Have you ever felt paralyzed at the very thought of making one more decision?