I'll be forever grateful.

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I write to share a story of healing .. much of which is a direct result of living as a full time caregiver, attending this site regularly and a visceral response to watching a program called “Ilanya Fix My Life.” This is an attempt to express my gratitude.

I sit here, as a 60 year old woman, who began walking a path of self-enlightenment in her 20's, yet has felt bereft of love and family. Admitting it is at once freeing and deeply painful.

It's freeing to acknowledge what I usually deny. I put on a strong face and front, even in the mirror. I've taught myself to live without love for so long, because it's less painful than trying one more time to engage with another human being and be hurt again. I can and do look in the mirror and love myself ... to the extent that it's protective against potential hurt. I surround myself with a protective blanket (I've progressed, it used to be a brick wall) that repels. Repels emotions and connections.

I can trace the source of pain. Molestation as a child, and no one knowing (not even myself, until my late 20's). A family that gave me mixed messages about love: I remember in my 20's talking with my mom about feeling loved by her and her telling me, ".. but I tell you every day: I do your laundry, keep a clean house, keep you safe." and me responding by saying that I also needed to hear the words and be hugged. She supported me in many other ways, but I never got the hugs, I heard the words only when I asked. Pain and tears were kept behind closed doors. There is a core of anger in me, still, that I have to walk away from something to ever get a response that looks like someone cares.

I came out of the closet to my dad in my early 20's (in an era when being gay was barely acknowledged), and found an amazing acceptance from him. My mother, however, just wanted to know where she went 'wrong' (what I heard was something was wrong with *me*). My two brothers have distanced themselves from the entire family, despite my being the eldest and their pseudo mom for a decade. My other sibling, my sister, tried for years to be the glue between our family after my mom died. My sense is that she gives 'love' out of a sense of duty, rather than something heartfelt, because she is also self-righteous and bitter. But that's MY filter, I'm sure.

After my mom died, my dad remarried .. to the woman with whom he'd had an affair during his first marriage. This woman is a self-righteous narcissist. Because my dad said he couldn't abide being alone, I worked, for many years to accept her as his spouse, and finally declared to my dad that I couldn't be around someone who couldn't be bothered to call his eldest child when he was admitted to a hospital (I found out, in an email from my brother).

All of my relationships have been disasters. I know I never felt good enough. That no matter what I did, it would never be enough. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that always ended painfully. I would open my heart and then the fear would enter and I'd shut down. I'd find myself sabotaging the relationship, hoping that the love for me was stronger than my weaknesses.

My saving grace was finding myself homeless, without prospects of work. The only thing that presented itself to me, took me back to my roots in nursing, that I forsook for a more lucrative career path in my 20's. For the last five years I've been a live-in caregiver for a (now) 90-year old lady who suffered a stroke. When I first began working with her, I kept my distance, telling myself that it was the professional thing to do. Around the third year of caring for her, I found myself feeling bereft again, thinking that the end of life was very near and I'd welcome it. One day, while explaining my feelings, I had an epiphany: I was channeling my charge. I was literally taking on her feelings of end of life. To overcome this, I chose to *acknowledge* that I love her. And love her, I do.

She has brought such meaning into my life. Without being aware it, she is my teacher, is a light in the darkness I'd forgotten I was living in. I feel my heart more open than it's been in decades. That light shines on the losses, too. I don't know that there's any more that I can do to heal the rifts between my brothers and the family (they're locked into a paradigm that closes the doors between us). I am close to my dad, again. I'm working on a better relationship with my sister. I've finally acknowledged that there are others I love who don't know it, because I've never shared it .. and I will fix that.

This healing is a process. I'm not asking for help or seeking guidance .. I'm well on my own way. I simply want to say .. Thank you. To all those who put their hearts on their sleeves, to the woman who produces that TV show, I say thank you. I have felt my heart blossoming and the tears flow. And I'm grateful.

Thank you all for sharing your journey and for being a source of light.

Thank you, Thank you, thank you.


I am so happy for you that you found your way out of a spiral, and you are in the process of healing. Rejoice! Take it one day at a time and do let your feelings show. Happy Holidays!
LadeeC, your story is one many of us could write with a few of the characters and circumstances changed. Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you have a peaceful and love-filled Christmas.
Thank you for the kind words. I invite others to share their stories of gratitude. I hope we can all find some light in this "work" we do.

Our stories are similar LadeeC....the main theme being never knowing if I was loved or simply a burden put on this earth to make others unhappy...I have wonderful, awesome loving friends, but like you, I choose to stay away from my toxic family....
Not sure when my path to enlightenment started... have always been curious and wanted to know how things 'work'... but as of the 26th of this month... I will have 29 years clean and sober.... that is when my REAL gratitude started.... when I had a real understanding of being 'free', at least from the chemicals and life style that was going to take me to an early grave...
Others may not understand this... but chemicals helped to save my life in a very convoluted way....It did keep me from feeling feelings that I had no tools to deal with it with...and then I got clean and sober.... I soaked up all that like a sponge... a way out... not just from the 'old days', but out of all the pain....I finally understood so much, not only about myself, but about others....and one of the gifts of recovery is to make a gratitude list everyday.... I end a lot of my posts on AC with, 'find one thing to be grateful for today'.....and thru all these years, being grateful comes as easy as breathing.... like today.... had to take G for a 'swallow test'..... I'm already tired and so burned out, and had to get up at 4:30 to make it out there and get him ready, and be there by 7:30... my gut told me to go early....I walked in and, bless his heart, there was poop from head to toe....He would have been in that on a regular day until 8 when the day lady comes in...so ya'll know the clean up story, don't have to do into that.... but off we went.... as we are rounding the corner on one of these back roads to get to the hiway, there are 7 beautiful does feeding in the pasture... I slowed down so he could see them.... his face lit up... he doesn't get out much.... and I was in awe like I always am.....

So yeah, my story is very similar to yours..... love? I had no idea what that meant..... sometimes I still feel I am not 'worthy'.... but that remains part of my journey of wonderment, and when I experience it, again, I am grateful all over again....

I have got to know you a little these past few months... our names are the same! Tho pronounced different.... but it is amazing to me how much we connected... and us both being paid caregivers.. what are the odds.... don't ya just love life's little surprises.!!!!!!

I appreciate you starting this thread and letting us know you better.... it always takes courage to open ourself up to the unknowns.... this would be great if this thread became a .... Today I am grateful for.......... I would read it for sure.... gratitude is a part of my day every day.....

Sending you lots of hugs LadeeC.... REAL ones.....
How beautiful that you have reached a point in your life were you can express yourself so openly.
Have a blessed holiday season,
Like others have said....my story is very similar, with a few details changed. Thank you for sharing. I come here to feel "normal". Your story did that for me today, as did that other Ladee's, I'm always confusing you with. ;) After my son was murdered I was obsessed with those "real life" TV shows (dateline etc.) because seeing regular people who have had a loved one murdered made me feel normal. This site....you two Ladies....and countless others here......is what I am most grateful for today.
LadeeC, I read your story twice. Similar backgrounds except I'm tenacious in trying to maintain my relationships with my siblings - to the point that they assume, take advantage, use me. It took me years to say NO to the financial part - especially when I end up paying over $1000-some of their bills on my credit card. I'm still trying to say NO on other parts of my life. And trying to learn to like Me so that I can say NO to those who truly do not appreciate me or value me as a person with thoughts, feelings and dreams.

What really got to me about your story though - is that I never let my family know how much they mean to me. I Know that at least 3 of 8 siblings do have a great affection for me. Like me, we show it with Actions and not with words...except baby brother.

It's true about this site. It helps us to vent all our frustrations in caregiving and life and family. So that we unload these negative baggage. And learn to be positive or to seek to Improve oneself. Therefore, I'm grateful for this site and all the posters who helped me to where I am now today. And I'm grateful, LadeeC, for reminding me that I still need to show my siblings (the ones I feel comfortable with) how I feel towards them. Thank you....
Today I am grateful to have TWO days respite..... If I wasn't so tired, I'd be doing the happy dance..... and I am grateful that just for today my son has not had a drink.... he had two alcohol related seizures last week, he has never done that before.... had two in a week.... He has been battling this for years... last year he had a seizure while driving..... thank God no one else was involved, but has had life altering injuries.... he will be crippled for the rest of his life... and even that didn't stop him from drinking....
I am so grateful for the family I worked for during all that... he could not even go to the bathroom, so they would let me run home and tend to him... and it was a long year for all involved.

So as Boni has had her son taken from her, I am standing by powerless to stop my son from taking his own life, one drink at a time.... we just never know what others are going thru...if we take the time to look in others eyes, we will see that there is much more going on than caregiving....

So on some days, being grateful for the does in the pasture is all I have... but I HAVE to look at the world and see something besides the everyday grind and all the things I am powerless over....

Boni calls me a 'tough old broad'..... I do believe I am in excellent company with many tough old broads...... and I am grateful for each of you..... how I can come here and just read....gets my problems into perspective and allows me to be ok with the trials and tribulations I have been given....

I have been on this site for many years, and it is so heartwarming to see so many going for help for themselves.... so we are making a difference here.... one post at a time..... my heart is full of love this morning....hugs to you all... and chocolate, don't forget the chocolate....
LadeeC, thank you for sharing your beautiful and thought-provoking story. I hope your lady will stay with you, lighting your way. x
I came home tired and went to the restroom. I swear, every time I come home, that toilet gets filthier and filthier. I will put the toilet cleaner in it just before I shower. Then I clean the toilet after I've showered. I go to the kitchen to find something to eat. *gasp* My sister has actually done something that lightens my load. So, today, I am grateful that sis took out the kitchen trash And the trash filled with dad's soiled pampers. I won't need to take it out tomorrow morning.

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