Care giving is my job, everything else is extra.
I repeat this to myself whenever I have moments of feeling like Steve is interrupting something I’m working on. Although I don’t get paid, I choose/love to take care of Steve, and I don’t answer to anyone, my brain sometimes needs to see it this way. Something you may not understand about me is that I need some structure to function. I’m a totally free flowing attention person. I was distracted 10 times just writing this sentence alone. If I allowed my attention to go to every place it wanted I would never get anything done.
In order to accomplish anything I want to, it requires enormous amounts of energy to focus and complete; so I have to frame things in terms of a list of to do’s, and hold myself accountable. Other wise I won’t do one thing but wander aimlessly all day. Trust me I allow my fair share of that in my life, if you follow me closely I don’t have to tell you that.
So whenever I am finally sitting down to write or make art and Steve needs something I need to remind myself Steve is the priority. The words, the art, they are important to me, but taking care of Steve is my number one focus.
If you’re a caregiver of any kind I know you understand the effort it takes to make sure you are filling your soul in ways that help you be able to show up for the other person. My filling up requires equal amounts of play and “working on goals” time. It took me a long time to understand that.
I found myself burnt out and angry all the time. I couldn’t find any direction, and felt like all I was, was a caregiver. Which, isn’t necessarily wrong, but in those moments I felt like it was. I wanted to do more, but couldn’t find the energy. I continued to feel like all I was giving was to Steve, and nothing to myself. So I tried to rest. You know, chose to do nothing, and enjoy it. Well, I did plenty of resting, plenty of aimless days where I dilly-dallied and didn’t focus on a list or on doing much.
I somehow felt worse. I felt more tired and burnt out doing nothing, than I did before. So I started to really soul search of what I actually needed to feel more fulfilled. It wasn’t more rest and less structure. It was more structure and more discipline. It was so counterintuative to me. I’ve always heard when feeling fatigued you rest.
I needed the opposite of rest. I needed to be engaging myself. My body, my brain, my creativity, my writing, my art, my….
So I set out to find what works. It wasn’t easy because I would find a flow and a set back with Steve would happen. I would struggle with feeling like the set back was because I was working on other things. Then once I got over that limiting thought, that’s just a lie, I struggled with getting back on task after a set back. I then struggled with getting irritated at Steve for interrupting me. This isn’t the first time we’ve been on that merry-go-round; but each trip around I catch myself a little quicker.
Steve and I have been instrumental in facing stuff in ourselves we never wanted to. I have the ability to talk about mine, more so than Steve. Recently working on the book, I asked him, “How do you want me to share some of the chaos we both put on one another?”, and he said, “How you always do, be honest, and leave out no details.”
It’s easy to try on all these ways you hear about healing and feel like you’re hopeless because it doesn’t work. We forget sometimes that all that is handed to us isn’t for us. The needing to rest isn’t for someone who prioritizes sleep like a boss already. Some of us need to move more, do more. Some (maybe everyone) need to play more. Just know if something you see working for seemingly everyone else isn’t for you, you’re not the problem.
“If a flower doesn’t boom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander Den Heijer
I wasn’t growing, because my soil was too compacted. It needed some compost and mulch. :)
When you see me sharing my art, words, or photos it’s safe to say, that’s when I’m being not just the best caregiver to Steve I can be, but the best self caregiver also.