So many times my thirty-something self would want to be out on the town having fun with my friends. Carefree, stress-free and only myself to worry about. There wasn’t anybody stopping me from going out or doing the things I wanted, but I always had an internal battle with myself.
Caring for others has been a huge part of my life, for most of my life. At a time when I should have been enjoying myself and thinking about settling down or having my own family, I was actually juggling health issues, caring responsibilities, a full-time job and trying to find time for self-improvement. It has been really tough.
There have been times when I have had to make some difficult choices. There have been times when I have been at my wits end and said peace out! There have been times when I’ve stepped away because it all got too much and times when I’ve had to put myself first (hardest of all!)
I have had to take huge amounts of time off work to take people to hospital and doctors’ appointments, arrange visits with health services, occupational therapists, dentists and cancer specialists. I have had to cancel many nights out with my friends because I wanted to be available just in case anything should happen. There was even a point where I thought I might have to quit work because it was getting too much. My bosses were getting frustrated with me being absent so often. Even though they knew what I had to deal with, there is still work to be done isn’t there? Someone has to keep working and, believe me, I did my best to keep going and not end up in a depressed heap.
All this took a toll on my physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The life of the person you are caring for becomes your own. It becomes your frame of reference and almost impossible to escape from. You can quite easily feel trapped in what feels like a never ending cycle, a bit like the Karpman triangle below.
You do sacrifice a lot of yourself when you care for others because it is rarely about you. It is about what that person needs and what you can do to help make their life more comfortable. What you need tends to come later and sometimes, not until it’s too late, if indeed at all.
I thank God everyday for my extended family and my amazing friends, who I am so lucky to have. They have been my rock through all this. I am guilty of trying to take on too much but when you have good people in your life who help support you, give perspective and lighten your load, it makes such a difference.
As human beings, we have the ability to feel, think and act. We get lost on our journey sometimes (I lose my way all the time!). Sacrifice and compromise are a part of life and we do it all the time in various situations. What is clear to me now (that was not a few years ago), is that I sacrifice myself in order to make others happy or offering support – this is very much to my own detriment and in the process I stop giving to myself. I have had to dig deep to get to know myself and the things I value, whilst creating a new way of being so I don’t burn out.
I have come to realise over the years exactly what type of person I am. I am stronger than I knew I could be, more capable than I believed and more compassionate than I ever gave myself credit for.
Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for.” Anonymous