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.

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I feel like this too sometimes.

I too, have a son that saw fit to get in a great deal of trouble. He's currently serving time in the Oregon State Pen. That's one of the reasons I left Oregon and came to California - I was running away from news cameras stuck in my face and camped out on the end of my block. Didn't want to deal with it. He was never violent, but he was incredibly stupid in his crime spree, and contrary to what most parents say, my son WAS the wrong crowd. He took a good Mormon who'd never been in trouble before and got him totally screwed up. I apologized to his parents forever over that one. My son is institutionalized. He'll be in and out of prisons his whole life. The last time he went in, I was actually relieved because I know he's safe there - no one is going to shoot him while he's attempting to burglarize the place, and the cops aren't going to shoot him while he's attempting to elude, and he won't kill anyone in a high speed chase. Talk about guilt? Lots of guilt wishing your son stays in jail where he's safe. But I do. I don't want him on the outside. I love him, and I want him to stay safe. There's a screw loose in him somewhere - something that just has never connected with him, and he needs to be where he is. I didn't cause it. I can't change it. I can't cure it. I like that.

Appreciate the thought, Captain.

id suggest you try to stop short of placing the bulk of the blame for your sons screw - up on his friends . blameshifting is why i narced my drunkass renter out to probation , and incidently , her dad is back and she isnt . im sure shes in the slam . she never would " own " the dui ( pills ) and it infuriates me . she didnt know she was doing anything wrong . her car was pulling to the right ( bouncing off the curb ) . about the hundredth time you hear that it makes your blood boil .
this has little to do with the message your trying to get across . im just a one tracker and just one sentence can spin me out .. lol

Thank you Susan I too will recite this often..

Good thoughts, Susan. I just used your idea. My mother talked about how she was hurting. And I know she is. I am sympathetic, but what was I to do about it? She wants me to climb into a pit of despair, but I can't live in the pit. I spend too much time in it already. I feel guilty for not staying in the pit, but it was a pit I didn't dig and what good would it do for me to be in it?

Thank you for posting the 3C's ... really good to remember...!!!
I didn't CAUSE it.
I can't CHANGE it
I can't CURE it.

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