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"Guilt, it's just a damn ton of bricks you carry around." Al Pacino


We do what we do for our families because we are good people and have a heart. Many, including our siblings, do not. Yet they don't appear to suffer. We do. But when care giving exacts a toll on our health and lives (which it always does), then we no longer are "good people." At least not to ourselves. And that's where guilt often comes in. Continuing to do something that we know is slowly killing us. Perhaps its time we start feeling "guilty" for how we don't take care of ourselves. To me, that may be the real crime, eh?

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I don't think guilt is "just a damn ton of bricks." I think that our conscience or moral compass or sense of guilt is a part of what makes us human, and when we see someone who has no conscience at all (on the news, after being apprehended for crimes) we wonder how a human being can function like that, or what made that person that way.

Guilt is not the problem. UNEARNED guilt is the problem. Hanging on to more guilt than we have a right to is the problem. And caregivers have tons of that! The job is simply impossible if perfection is your goal. In any given situation we have several options for what to do ... and none of the options is right! There is no way we can restore our loved ones to their former state of health. Therapist Pauline Boss talks about aiming at the "good enough" relationship, because the perfect (and reciprocal) relationship is no longer possible. But it feels wrong to settle for "good enough" with our loved ones. Wrong = guilt feelings.

And, as you point out Dunwoody, no matter how much we love, we care, we feel obligated, etc. we have our own human limitations. We don't have endless reserves of good health. We don't have unlimited stamina. Just being compassionate does not enable us to function optimally while sleep deprived.

We should feel guilty when acting deliberately to hurt another person. Not being able to function without sufficient sleep does not fall into that category. Needing a mental health break occasionally (or frequently) does not fall into that category. Preparing healthy food for ourselves, exercising, keeping doctor appointments -- none of these things are deliberate acts meant to hurt someone. Any guilt we feel over these things is unearned -- it is not logical or rational or helpful.

Trying to figure out how to cheat your sister out of her inheritance? Yeah, feel guilty...so guilty you don't go through with it. Deliberately ignoring your mother's need for a depends change because you are mad at her ... sure, feel guilty, and don't do that again.

But guilt for all the other things that you can't do perfectly or have no control over, nope -- that doesn't make sense. Feeling guilty because you have needs and wants? Hey, that isn't a deliberate attempt to hurt someone, so give yourself a pass.

I'm in favor of guilt or having a conscience or a moral compass or an ethical sense. It is only when it is applied inappropriately (which caregivers are masters at) that is a burden rather than a useful aspect of our humanity.
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Good for you, capnhardass ! You are right, IMO, you should feel honored and Dunwoody probably is a great caregiver! ( got some sleep- not feeling quite so dramatically depressed:0)
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caring for parents is something we just cant imagine when were young. now that the time has come i honestly feel honored as hell to be my moms carer and domestic partner. my siblings just dont have the diplomacy, smarts, or fortitude to do the job. i take pride in everything i do and this is no exception. give yourself some credit dunwood, ill bet you do a hell of a good job..
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I haven't posted much lately, but I read, Mishka. Many of the questions I can't relate to well enough to answer at the moment. But I'm still here, clogging arteries and all.
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Oh, JessieBelle, I am so sorry about your friend! Yes, do eat healthy! I need to also. And get more exercise. It does help moods, too. And don't forget to sit on the sun and smile. Don't be the next one with clogged arteries!!! We need you here on the forum!!! ((((( JB))))) and (((((( friend)))))
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This hit home for me today. A friend of mine had a massive heart attack and is in the hospital now. She has probably already left us, but is being held in a coma, hoping for a miracle. She is the same age I am pretty much. And I thought of how tired I have become. I used to eat a healthy diet of vegetables and grilled or steamed meat. But my mother doesn't like healthy food. She likes fried foods and horribly unhealthy food. So to please her, my own diet has turned into trash. I don't enjoy cooking two meals and she won't eat the healthy food.

This morning I wondered if I was going to be the next one lying in bed with my arteries clogged. I know if I don't stop this fried chicken insanity, I am going to be donating my health as well as my time to her. So it is back to whole grains, vegetables, and grilled fish for me. Eating what my mother wants makes me feel bad and could be a big reason she has been sick for 20 years now.
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I have " learned " to let go of a lot of the guilt, when I began letting go of control. What ever choices my fil makes are his. For example, he never wanted a medical alarm bracelet ( have a feeling it had something to do with me having a bit of freedom), so now, I just go on my outings and visits with friends. I do not stay long, but at least I get out now.
There are so many situations that have occured; his quickness to anger, disputes over his meds., his drinking alcohol and now not changing his pull-ups daily. What can I do? Nothing.
So, I am thankful that I have a part of the house that is mine, and don't feel a bit guilty that I do not spend more time with him. If it was up to him, I'd be out in the livingroom with him, 24/7, watching old westerns and two hours of news.
It's funny.....when it's nice and I am outside, gardening,painting, enjoying some peace and quiet, when I come in for something, he now has coughing spasms ( which I belive are mostly fake ), as if a bit of the outside air is killing him.
We have live day by day, moment by moment. It is exhausting.
Dinagrey
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Oh it is 8:37 AM here. And I have to go to my daughter's psychiatrist now. I have insomnia at times. Especially before doctor appointments for my daughter. I hope I can get a few hours of sleep in before she comes home. Or I will not be content!!
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Mishka, I don't know where you reside, but if you haven't slept yet I do hope you are not in the New York City time zone, because it is morning here.
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* accept not except it is early for me and I have yet to sleep. - so , I guess it is actually late for me.
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Quite the conundrum , Dunwoody ( and good to see you!) . Can we really escape ourselves? Isn't that really the question? Can we change our core? Or do we just except who we are and roll with it. I have learned to be content with myself if not happy. Happy is over rated. It is too much pressure . It's like chasing the dragon -trying to be happy like you were at 10-like looking for that one thing to make you happy and being miserable during the search. I am tired. I'll stick with content. And boring. I am now very boring.
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