By B. Lynn Goodwin.
Do other people’s needs come first? Do your resentments sometimes expand like a swollen spring river? It’s a familiar predicament. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone.
When I was my mother’s caregiver, I often put my personal needs on hold. I drowned my resentments in comfort foods. Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies were a favorite. I’d pull one after another out of the box and stuff them in my mouth mindlessly as I drove to the pharmacy or the post office or even the grocery store.
This was not a healthy way to problem solve. As my waistbands got tighter, I knew I needed a better way to replenish my reserves.
I got back in touch with my physical needs, as well as my mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, through my journal. In there, I could vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. My journal allowed me to finish a thought without interruption. It encouraged me to analyze, celebrate, and find the hope that had become elusive.
After I processed my own issues, I had the energy and good will to reach out again.
Want to give it a try? Not sure how to start? Try one of these sentence starts:
- The truth is…
- I am…
- Today I know….
Finish the sentence and keep writing.
Any response works, as long as it came from the heart.
Here are three responses to “The truth is…”:
The truth is not always easy for me to state out loud. If I could say anything without worrying about hurting you, I’d tell you that I love you but I need to shift gears. I feel so stuck. I know you are more stuck. My heart aches for you, but it aches for me, too. I feel my fifties breathing down my back. I want to help you, but sometimes I resent giving up my life to do it.
The truth is… I have a secret life online in a world you refuse to access. I help students in the Academic Assistance Center and they help me. They remind me there is life beyond caregiving.
The truth is that I am tired. Your snail’s pace wears me out. I don’t want to think about it. I want to sip this cup of coffee in the mug you bought when we went to British Columbia, back when I was twelve. I want to listen to the rain drumming on roof and spilling over the edge of the gutter. I want to slide away, like the rain into the gutter, like Alice down the rabbit hole.
How would you respond? Try it right now.
- Pick one of the sentence starts above.
- Write for approximately 12-15 minutes.
- Read it over. Editing is optional.
- Spell check.
- Then send me your response (15-1500 words) at [email protected] with the subject “Journaling-Inspire Me Today”.
- I’ll write back to tell you what I love, and I might post it on writeradvice.com/sharing.html.
Journaling releases mental toxins and deepens awareness. It helps the strong, sane, safe, healthy, hopeful parts of you emerge. Do not underestimate its power. Do not underestimate your own power as a writer. You never know how your words may affect someone else.
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The truth is that I wrote the statements above a long time ago. I’m so glad that my life and my truths have changed. I miss my mother, but I love my freedom. I’m left wondering what would have happened if I embraced social independence aka dating while I was alive. She had no objections; I just couldn’t figure out a way to do it.
What is your truth? Post it here, or send it to me privately if you’re shy.
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers
TODAY I KNOW that I am a very blessed person who has so much to be grateful for. I could wake up on my own, get out of bed without assistance, see the wonderful sunrise, and drive in my car to the most beautiful place to go for a run with a very special friend. Putting things in perspective gives one a sense of gratitude – a friend has a son who is in a coma and the doctors do not know what is wrong with him; my brother has panic attacks which prevent him from doing anything worthwhile although he is a talented person; the list goes on where people do not have very much to be grateful for and their lives are traumatic. Today I know I need to be present and enjoy each and every moment that is precious, for it could change at any time.
It’s awesome to see this here, Michele. Thanks for having the courage to share these lovely thoughts. You are an inspiration to all who read this.
The woman (I assume she’s a woman) who sent me this strong, personal writing, agreed to let me post it here. She wrote it in response to this blog, but sent it to me privately. You’re invited to do the same.
The truth is that I feel stuck, frustrated and discouraged.
The truth is that I was laid off 1.5 years ago, but have yet to share this major life changing development with my parents and siblings due to the fact that my family is very judgemental/critical.
The truth is that I am at a crossroads professionally and would like to change careers.
The truth is that I thought I would be offered an acceptable contract job before now which would allow me to pursue a Master’s degree which is required for my new career.
The truth is that, since I am not working, I have become a caregiver for the father of my significant other with whom I co-habitate and I resent it.
The truth is that I feel that I am often taken for granted by my significant other and that my needs and desires are secondary to his.
The truth is that I left my family, friends, community and professional network behind five years ago and moved to a different state to be with my significant other and I feel cut off from family and friends.
The truth is that, although my significant other talks about us getting married “someday”, he has not yet proposed marriage officially because he says that he was traumatized by his divorce (10 years ago) and is still reeling from the emotional aftermath and I resent it.
The truth is that I am 53 years old, in a five year relationship, still single and I resent it.
The truth is that, prior to my five year relationship, I was a globe trotter and traveled extensively; however, given my caregiver responsibilities and limited budget, I have not taken but a half dozen trips in the past five years and I resent it.
The truth is that I never thought my life would turn out this way.
The truth is that I am a seeker of spiritual truth and I am actively seeking divine guidance/inspiration/enlightenment in each of these situations.
The truth is, on a positive note, I have many wonderfully supportive, loyal friends that have remained faithful and true through thick and thin… what a blessing!