A long time ago when I became a caregiver, it did not occur to me that I was one or would be one for the rest of my life. At thirty-three years old that’s a lot to consume. In the beginning, each new day was all I could focus on. Get through today. Don’t think about tomorrow. At the time I knew someone, about my age, who was caring for her husband. She did not see me.
At the end of each day when I lay in bed all of the worries looped through my mind. There were concerns without answers. Where would I get the money to put food on the table, to keep the roof over our heads, to pay the enormous health insurance premium now that he wasn’t working anymore? If we did not have insurance how could he continue to get care? Did I even want to get up in the mornings anymore? Economically I was woefully unprepared to take care of our family. No one could see me.
Sad, scared, barely surviving, there was no one to see the ambiguous grief crushing my heart.
Days and nights, nights and days, blended into each other for months. The first year led to the second, the second year to the third and so on. As I emerged from the fog of a life dismantled, I was hired to work at the local hospital at a low-level job. Getting my foot in the door was huge. It boosted my confidence. It gave me hope. Eventually, I worked for someone who understood I was a caregiver even if I still did not see it. She could see me.
Someone seeing me shifted my perception of myself. I was less alone. I was less lonesome. I began to see I could do more than survive, I could thrive in the face of this adversity. Seeing me mattered.
In whatever way caregiving comes to you it’s an enormous life challenge. We hold another person’s life in our hands every day. Caregiving needs come in all shapes and sizes, from providing supervision to paying bills to total care. Some days the challenge is daunting, some days it’s not. Some days it’s incredibly rewarding, some days it is not. Most days are somewhere in the middle.
Wherever you are in this caregiver life I see you.