Guilt is something so many of us deal with as caregivers. Some days it seems that's all there is - guilt, guilt and more guilt. Guilt omlettes for breakfast, guilt sandwiches for lunch and slabs of guilt for dinner with a dessert of - you guessed it - guilt. Sometimes we even have a guilt cocktail in the evening.
This guilt stems from many things - we feel guilty over how we feel about being a caregiver for our loved ones, we feel guilty because we have anger towards our relatives for not helping out more - or towards our loved ones for being difficult to care for, we feel guilty for neglecting our own families or work to care for our loved one. It can come from any number of factors.
I had to revive a daily custom I had several years ago when my oldest son was arrested and jailed for making the mistake of following someone else's lead and going on a B&E spree. I was humiliated that my child - whom I had raised almost single-handedly, kept active in the church, taught right from wrong, and struggled to get through school - had immediately upon graduation taken it upon himself to get in as much trouble as possible by not saying NO when someone suggested they do something illegal. I was crushed, hurt beyond speaking, and went into a deep depression. I went through the motions of my every day activities, but I wasn't really "there". I was consumed with guilt and kept asking myself "where did I go wrong?" with my son.
While I was struggling with all this, I started looking for online support groups to help me - before I lost my mind completely. On one of the support sites I found, I learned a valuable daily mantra - the Three C's:
Because I didn't CAUSE this,
I cannot CHANGE this,
and I cannot CONTROL this.
I said it to myself every day, many times a day. I had to force myself to say it in the morning when I first woke up, because my first instinct upon waking was to dread the coming day and what new twists and turns might be thrown my way, and then the guilt would come slamming down on my mind like the jaws of a steel trap.
With my father's death and my moving in with Mom, I find myself dealing with guilt all over again. Mom is a master at the Guilt Game, and she knows how to take me on a major Guilt Trip without even saying a word.
When I get angry over the situation I'm in as her caregiver, or how she refuses to shower, or wants to do nothing but sit in front of the TV, eat and sleep, I have to remind myself:
I didn't CAUSE Mom's immobility and decline due to age
I cannot CHANGE Mom's immobility and decline due to age
and I cannot CONTROL Mom's immobility and decline due to age.
The Three C's are incredibly helpful to me. They help me remember that while I can't stop, change or control the aging process, I can do small things to improve Mom's situation. I didn't cause her situation, but I can improve it a bit. When I get frustrated to the point of despair because Mom just peed on the floor - again - or just won't shower, or asks for the 10th time today about something I've told her about repeatedly....I have to remind myself of the Three C's.
I hope you'll forgive my rambling post, and that it makes sense and might help someone else.