Honouring Your Emotions
As a caregiver, have you ever told yourself that it could be worse as a way to try to make yourself feel better about your current situation?
I’m guilty of it myself. For the first five years of my caregiver journey, I tricked myself into believing that I was fine with my daughter having an intellectual disability. In fact, I was so far in denial that I didn’t want to complain or share my frustrations because Summer’s diagnosis wasn’t life threatening and I told myself that it could be worse. For example, she didn’t need a feeding tube, a wheelchair, etc.
Our frequent visits to the neurologist and therapists at the children’s hospital reinforced these feelings as I would always see children in much worse conditions that I felt I was facing with Summer.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was robbing myself of feeling anything and accepting my new reality. When we’re living in denial, we’re simply surviving - and that is no way to live.
The idea that emotions can be compared and that one person’s experience means more because it's more tragic is so damaging to our own healing process of accepting our caregiver role.
Is this something to which you can relate?
It’s a delicate balance between being optimistic and acknowledging that your life will never be how you imagined it. It’s a delicate balance between being grateful that your child has learned to walk and acknowledging how frigging frustrating and challenging the daily grind can get.
Some days I would feel resentment towards my friends who had it so darn easy with their children who just learned things so easily. All the things that I had taken for granted with my first born.
My goodness, I realized that I needed to really focus on my emotions and not compare my situation to any other families. This sounds so simple, yet is so challenging for me.
I have one ‘neurotypical’ child and one child with a rare genetic disease and autism. Both children bring their own unique challenges to parenting. There are no good children and there are no bad children. I’ve learned that all children really want the same thing - to feel loved, to feel safe and to feel heard.
That is on me as the caregiver. I control the energy of my household.
The more I focus on acknowledging my emotions and asking myself what changes I could do to make myself feel better, then the more I look to my emotions as a compass.
When feelings of resentment appear, I tell myself that it’s time to do something for myself - it’s time to meditate, it’s time to go for a walk, it’s time to meet with friends. Our feelings are individual. Embrace them and let them lead you on your path to better self-care. We deserve it. Our kids will be better off when we take this one step towards honouring our emotions.
Please comment below your experience with managing your emotions.