I feel like I need help. Not financial help. Not emotional help. Like tangible actionable help. I’m overwhelmed. I’m drowning. I feel guilty. I feel resentful. I feel like giving up. To say I was underprepared by the overwhelming nature of what caretaking is and how much it takes out of you is an understatement. I thought it would be easier – manageable even. I thought I’d have more help. I don’t know what I thought, I just knew that I had to take my dad in – it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do for my mom as well.
I feel like nothing is going to save me from the inevitable fallout. I feel that in trying to juggle the relationships around me they are instead all starting to fail. I am constantly worried about everyone and their moods and what’s on their plates and not trying to push anyone all at the expense of myself. I feel like my girlfrien is stressed, overwhelmed at not having a partner and a relationship anymore but rather living in what may be the expected reality of a married woman after 40 years. We both work full time and I try to be conscientious of her needs and her own stresses that have nothing to do with our home life. Adding to that however is the reality that our home life further compounds any other stress at any given time.
My mom is stressed. She is also diabetic with high blood pressure in her 60s and has become increasingly inactive, withdrawn to her room, and less reliable as a resource for help. I have to constantly remind myself that she is here with us for an entirely separate circumstance than my father, who is turning 88, and that they are divorced and had been living separately until now for 15+ years. Little things she used to be open to doing more regularly she is seemingly no longer open to doing. After our last blowup and how that affected me I am hesitant to ask her to do anything beyond what I feel she is willingly self-motivated to do – which isn’t much. I’m frustrated and burdened by the fact that she, unlike my dad, is mobile and independently able to do things but financially tied and reliant on me to do most things for her and/or in the very least in my company.
My dad on the other hand is financially independent and contributes to his room and board but in the realest sense of becoming a ‘caretaker’ requires assistance with everything else. His medical appointments are getting longer and more frequent. I spend hours each week sorting out his medications, contacting doctors, facilitating all aspects of his medical care – all aside from the time missed at work to accompany him to appointments and lab draws and to make sure that he is both receiving adequate care and asking/retaining the information we need to manage him at home.
Most nights I want to go home after work and immediately shut the doors and close off from everything but on most nights, I’m either stressing about dinner when my mom isn’t in the mood, which stresses not only me but solicits complaints from my father about ‘things not working’ out, and also solicits frustration from my girlfriend who like myself – had been at work all day and doesn’t want to deal with anything more for the night. I stress about managing expectations. I stress about the stress I know others will feel when said expectations are not met. I struggle to find a balance when my dad corners me with his laundry list of items and deciding between postponing things to the weekends or just dealing with things right then and there. But then come weekends – short precious weekends – and I find myself busy juggling with personal errands; communal errands (like groceries and household necessities); assessing bills and finances for my dad; chores – usually bed linen and bathroom towel laundry and/or cleaning the bathroom itself, or moving things, reorganizing things, etc for him; doing our own laundry; worrying about meals – CONSTANTLY – out of guilt that I’m not home during the week to help so I want to give my mom time ‘off’ but as there is increasingly little time ‘on’ – the resentment creeps in. And it’s not her fault, nor is it her responsibility. And none of this is my dad’s fault, and it is my responsibility. I'm their only child. I also feel like I’m stretched incredibly thin trying be a loving and responsible kid, a bookkeeper, a chauffeur, a medical advocate, an ATM, a friend, a lover, and a good person in general. I feel in juggling it all I am halfassed at best.
I don’t have the answers. My intentions are falling short. Everyone is growing restless and resentment is silently fostering in us all. I feel I do nothing anymore but constantly chase my own tail and by no means can time spent with anyone be considered ‘quality’ time spent with me. I can feel it. I’m drowning. I feel as though I started out as a person motivated by the purest of intentions and now grapple with my own darkness as the cloud of self-doubt, guilt, anger and resentment shield me from any hint of my former self.