Caring for the Caregiver – Part 3

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And for me it’s a little scheduled hour of exercise I do three times a week. I don’t do it on my own. I trap myself with a trainer that makes me show up on time. I’m not stupid! I’d never show up if it was just me saying eleven o’clock I’m going to go. I’m not. I’m going to do something else. But now I super look forward to it, I know that’s not the correct English but, I think it’s a great way to put it. I very much look forward to that hour three times a week. It gives me something to do and it’s revitalizing. I have to have no answers; there is no place that I don’t have to have an answer. I go home my kids want help with statistics or physics. You know it’s exhausting being a loving person in the world.

It’s exhausting alright. So that hour I surrender myself to my trainer and I’m very clear, I say thank you, I’m allowed to safely surrender my body to you. I haven’t been injured, barely that’s why I have a wrap for my wrist but not injured badly, so I’m able to surrender to somebody else. From a person who is always the always the order giver that’s super important. Now you might be someone who only takes orders, so schedule your hour giving them, I don’t care. Say you are a dog trainer, for three hours a week, I don’t know but something you think allows some sense of balance to understanding the perspective of how you relate to other people.

Now these are just my experiences, I can be full of baloney to each person in this room, but I’m telling you my experience – what helps me, so I do that. I look forward to that and I think it’s healthy for me. It allows me to surrender and not have the answers.

What I find with those that are caregivers, to bring this back, is suffering related to their lack of emotional or intellectual understanding of the circumstances they are in. Their circumstance could be one developed over years, could be immediate, whatever the case is. There is a lack of congruency between what they expect and the life they are living now, and that is almost always the common denominator; so I start there. I don’t even give an answer to my patients’ family. How do you understand the disease, how do you understand your perspective within it?

Then, I take it from what they understand and much of the time doctors get this all the time; patients come in expecting something from the medical field on the disease that is not rational. It’s an expectation that can’t be met and if you buck against an expectation for a decade over what can’t be met, like you expect your husband or wife to eat when they can’t, or you expect them to get up and walk or you expect them to have a conversation. At the end of an expectation in a day you’re mad, you have anger because expectations aren’t met.

So, I’m not saying do not expect the world, but expect what can actually be delivered and that congruency is very hard. I do not expect my seventeen year old son, regardless of how more brilliant he is than I am, to have perspective on his feelings. It would be great if he had the maturity that I had, of someone was mean, of something happened to him, but he doesn’t, he’s seventeen.

So I don’t expect him to be anything other than seventeen. I don’t know what that is, it’s a moving target, but I do my best to step back and say he’s not really an adult. I’ve buffered almost all his experiences.

Similarly, I don’t expect a ninety year old to be who they were when they were seventy. Look at who people are in the moment and expect for them what is fair of them and then you won’t resent it; and caregivers that’s tropic dependency. Co-dependency in the true sense of the word back twenty years ago in the trends of co-dependency groups, is really a power play – it is a sense of control. People think that co-dependents are victims, sometimes they are

Co-dependents more than anything are asserting power; and you do it in a passive aggressive manner, in a way caregivers assert power is resenting those expectations that they actually asked for; and that is a very complicated dynamic. So, I would say to you, you are a caregiver because of circumstance and it might even be a regretful one, that’s very true and you can’t help it if the one you love has Alzheimer’s and you are responsible for their care, but what are you going to do with it? So then you have your community resources, then you have your expectations of the disease so you are expecting what is reasonable within the disease, with communications with your doctor and then you have time to yourself, by asking yourself, basically what do I want to do? That’s the number one thing. If you’re sitting in the room, I’ll ask you one question now and if it’s hard for you to answer you may be on that edge of co-dependency and I’m not diagnosing anybody. We all have it, I’m no different.

Now, if you’re left alone in a room and you have the usual choices how many have been alone in a hotel room on a travel trip or with family and you just sit there because there is no one to do something with and you say, what do I want to do, I don’t know, do I go to the gym, or do I go to the spa, or do I go down and have a coke at the bar? You don’t know, because you are only acting in response to someone else’s needs.

So ask yourself several times a week what do you want to do, don’t judge it. Now, I’m not saying go out and that’s where chemical dependency and a lot of things come in there, because you reject what you need, so much so you don’t do what you need – you escape. So if your choices are running away, you probably need a little help on that one, we all do that.

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