One of my favorite movies of all time is Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts and Laura San Giacomo play friends and roommates who are prostitutes–dangerous work. Whenever they say goodbye to one another, they say the same thing.
“Take care of you.”
I’m not a prostitute.
I’m a wife.
I’m the mother of four young children.
I’m the caregiver of my mother who has Alzheimer’s.
I’m stressed out.
I hear the words over and over in my head. “Take care of you.” “Take care of you.” “Take care of you.”
Easier said than done! But I’m learning.
I’ve joined a support group. This is THE single best decision I’ve made along the way. It is a source of information, resources and emotional support. I’ve never missed a meeting!
I’m learning to say, “No.” That’s a tough one for me. I’ve been a people pleaser my whole life. I like to help people. I also like to feel needed. So, when someone asks me to do something, my knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Sure, I’d love to!” In the last year, I’ve scaled back my volunteering. I now focus my efforts on only those things that really bring me true enjoyment. If the activity causes me stress, I don’t do it.
I also cancelled a family reunion I was to host this summer. That was hard for me to do. I love my family and don’t get to see them often. If I put it off, will my mom still be here? Will she still know them? I’ve wanted to cancel it for awhile. But, I kept telling myself not to make the decsion on a day when I was stressed out…but to make it on a day when I’m not. Then it hit me: I’m almost always stressed out!
I’m asking for help. Another tough one. I think I’m generally thought of as self-reliant and strong. It’s difficult to admit that I can’t do it all.
I write about my feelings. This blog is a great source of therapy for me. If I am able to help anyone along the way, so much the better. I don’t publish everything I write. Some of it is too emotional. Maybe one day I’ll share those writings, but not yet.
What I don’t do is eat right or exercise. The eating thing is really tough. I’m an emotional eater. If I don’t get this under control, I’ll weigh 600 pounds before this caregiving journey is over. Exercise is tough, too. It’s hard to find time for it. But I must! I’m not getting any younger and it’s not going to get any easier!
What do you do to maintain your sanity as a caregiver…whether you’re caring for your kids or an aging loved one–or both, like I am? I’d love to hear from you!
Take care of you!