So the other day, I took my sister to the podiatrist and someone in the office said something to me that really struck me. They said “You are doing a good job”. At first, I was puzzled. I did not know what the person was referring to, but then the person went on to say that not many people would do what I am doing. They were referring to the fact that I took such an interest in my sister, taking the time to ensure she was taken care of, etc. This comment made me pause. I did not think much of what I was doing…I mean it’s only logical: if I think my sister needs to see a particular doctor, I take her. Admittedly, depending on the cost, this can be a challenge. But, if it means I need to save a little longer or my parents and other sister have to pitch in, then fine. But we find a way to get it done. This attitude right here, “the find a way to get it done” thing, was pointed out to me to not be very common. For various reasons, some persons who have loved ones with disabilities, sometimes show little interest in their child. Now this could be due to frustration due to the lack of resources in the country or just feeling overwhelmed as that parent could be all alone with no family support, etc. No judgements here. Everyone has their own story. I just wanted to point out to you that you are trying to do the best that you can for your loved one.
That conversation made me realize something: too often we caregivers (parent/sibling/whatever) judge ourselves too harshly. We do not cut ourselves any slack and so I want to say to you today: Mommy/Daddy/Sister/Brother or whomever you are…honey, you ARE doing a good job.
Often, Guilt Consumes Me
I have cried myself to sleep, wrecked with guilt that I am not doing enough to help my sister. This was even before I was an adult, which is ludicrous because let’s be real, as a child…no income, no network, nothing…there is so much and no more I could really do.
Honey, if you are at this stage, parents I’m talking to you too because sometimes we have income but it’s not a lot and we feel so ashamed that we can’t pay for that art class or whatever for our child…listen to me, do the best with what you have now and work towards building on that. Make friends with other parents and form a support system and help each other out. Little by little you’ll get there…but you must have a plan of where you’re headed.
Take a deep breath…you ARE doing a good job.
Don’t Forget to Live Your Life
My older sister ALWAYS reminds me of this. She will often say “Alicia, you have your own life to live as well”. Why do I bring this up? Guys…we are individuals…we have hopes and dreams independent of the ones we have for our kids/siblings/loved ones. Gasp! Do we? Yes!!! I know this is hard…most of my time is consumed with plans or just plain worrying for my sister but what I have found out is that the best way to help my sister is to ensure that I have become the best version of myself. It’s like when they tell you on the plane that in case of an emergency, you should put on your mask first before helping anyone else…why…because if you’re dead, who the heck are you gonna help?
If I decided not to go to school or not to start the business, then how on earth am I going to be in a position to help my sister financially? If I do not ensure that I take care of myself emotionally and physically how am I going to be around or be in my right mind to help her?
Assess your life. Can you move things around in your life to go get that degree to get that job that will actually help you to get a decent income? Can you make room in your daily life to learn about entrepreneurship so that you can build that business on the side, so that one day you can walk away from your 9 to 5 and actually get to spend time with your family? Where can you fit some kind of exercise into your life…face it, you need to be alive to do all the things you wish to do.
Take a deep breath my friend…spend some time thinking about you and your needs and how to get them accomplished.
You ARE Doing a Good Job
I just want to pour some love on you right now. I just want to send you a mighty hug and please hear me when I say this: You ARE doing a good job when it comes to your loved one. You are trying. You are doing what you can to enhance their life. The fact that you are on this website shows that you are willing to learn more so that you can do more for them. Continue pouring out that love. Continue having your loved one’s best interest at heart. When you need a break…take it. Support that other family who has a loved one with a disability and they can support you too. Take care of yourself. Live your life. Have fun!