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Self Care for the Caregiver and the Child Within 
Started by eKIM
17 Jan 2014, 5:03 PM

Self Care for the Caregiver and the Child Within 

“In a certain, dear way, we never really grow older, we simply grow bigger.  The sweet, precious child that we once were is still a part of ourselves, playing a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ with us from the mysterious land of our spirit and soul.  Not only must we never outgrow our ‘Inner Child’’, but we must learn to access and communicate with our ‘Inner Child’”.   - Ekim 

Certain people struggle with their difficulties because they are so used to living the role of the “rescuer”, the “provider”, the “protector”, the nurturer, the “fixer”, the “caregiver”, the “SuperParent”, or some similar role.  

Living the role of “the one in need of care” is foreign to their view of themselves, and as a result they do not handle that role very well.  

They will sometimes even continue to reach out to comfort others, while at the same time not allow themselves to find or receive comfort to balm their own hurting spirit. 

In my recent role as a caregiver to my wife, and dealing with negative emotions and thoughts, I had to tell myself:  “Do what you are good at.  Simply use what has always worked for you. 

There is a tiny “hurting little child within you”.  Focus on making things “right” for that sweet young child named ‘YOU’.  Let the child come out - fully, with both tears and laughter.  Love that child, learn from that child, heal that child  - heal ‘YOU’.”   - eKim

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Reply by NatR
18 Jan 2014, 12:56 AM

How very touching eKim, 

thank you you for that thought provoking post...it's very apt.

trying to fix things for others  even in the form of caregiving  - does not fix the neglected inner child...lots to think about:) 

thank you,
NatR 
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Reply by NatR
20 Jan 2014, 6:45 PM

Hello eKim, and other readers...

been thinking about this post...it's very interesting...to dig in under the surface of our tough exteriors, whether we are caregivers, or not....there certainly is an "inner child" who may or may not find the love and reassurance that they are looking for.

you really hit the target eKim.  I grew up the oldest of 4 children, there was a fifth child who died of crib death at 36 days.  As the oldest I watched "without understanding or getting it" as my parents went through grief, poverty, fear, and fought the battles by themselves.

back in the 40s, 50s, 60s ( and even to this day). You did not speak of mental illness, depression, nervous breakdowns, you coped alone. 

This put a lot of stress on me as I turned into a caregiver very early on as my mom had breakdown after breakdown.  My father did not support us children, and I watched as he condemned my mom for her weakness and her lack of faith in god, the power of prayer. 

I became the  "caregiver" "the nurse" "the cook" "the laundry lady" "the surrogate mom" "the lunch packer" "the listener" "the peacemaker" ( protecting my mom and siblings from an angry and unpredictable father.)

therefore my "inner child" is pretty sensitive, still hiding, still afraid, still easily hurt.

Caregiving continues to be important to me, it always made me feel Less Guilty to care for others....I guess because as a child and young adult, the more I did for others, the less I got into trouble...or the more valued I was...needed, performing a service.

thats not the only reason I became a caregiver, I do sincerely care about others.
but it's interesting to look back...and see things a bit clearer 

its complicated.....and your words have made me remember a lot of things about the "inner child" we all have.

i wonder if this story resonates with others...or if it's unique to me.

have a good day everyone, eKim especially.
NatR 


 
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Reply by marstin
21 Jan 2014, 7:14 AM

What an interesting insight into our roles as caregivers. Reading what you have written eKIM and Nat, has woken up that child within me. Growing up in a household with a father who was physically and verbally abusive to my mom, I took on the role of protector very early in life. My brother would somehow just disappear when things were happening. Throughout the years I continued to protect my mom and although eventually the physical abuse was in the past, the verbal abuse continued against her mostly but often times it was me that was made to feel so insignifigant. I developed a hard crust to hide my pain. I kept that role up until my father passed away, even though at times I felt like my mom would set me up to get into a battle over something she was afraid to confront herself. I played protector right up until she passed away as my brother seemed to feel it was his job to take over the role of my father. I guess in many ways it prepared me to be a fighter for those in need and to have a deep understanding of other peoples pain. It's strange how I came across this as I had a revelation today about how much pain my brother has caused me since my mom passed away and realized that I no longer have to take it. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I know I will continue to care for others because it is such a part of me and for that I am thankful.

Hugs,
Tracie
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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
16 Feb 2014, 7:12 PM

i think that the general concept of the problems we encounter when we focus too much on fixing or rescuing is very useful. But there is a difference between the rut of rescuing and the strength in accompanying another person on his/her journey.  People who pay close attention to the situation of others can, if they turn their thinking minds to it, come up with better understandings, more options for positive help and change and more efficient processes that improve the dignity and the experience of life for the people they are accompanying. A perons who is doing the very close work (physically, emotionaly, with intuition, spiritually and with critical thinking) is a tremendous gift for the person who is suffering. There is a difference bween the bad habit of being a fixer or rescuer and the strength of accompanying effectively. Some people with the gift and discipline of accompanying are taken advantage of in their youth by the troubled adults and children around them. They can be so overwhelmed that they develope the  bad habit of resucing- their growth in their deep gift is stunted by others taking advantage of their youth  and in deperience and dependence. I jsut want to say this because too often it's the pop-psychology of "rescuer" "fixer" "pleaser" that is discussed and not the underlying real gift and strength. A person who has this gift will develop good boundaries and will recognize those taking advantage of them - the pain creating brother for example - and will know how not stay disengaged - how to only engage as an adult and how to require that the paincreating other person engage as an adult.  IN my family, we have a doctor who is, when funtioning well, willing to make hard decisions and to see them through; a business man with a dream who is capable of seeing through a promise for 70 years and me, a person with a gift for accompnaying and just being theire for the long hours finding wayts to create community, and evoke dignity and pleasure and happiness. I am a lawyer and a teacher and a hobby artist - clients often say that I'm not like other lawyers.   I'm a firm believer that more than one person committed to accompnaying the palliative care person just increases the well-being at every level of the palliative person. We are social animals and need an alive and caring community right up until we take our last breath. The dying person needs the community and the surviving persons.  
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
17 Feb 2014, 10:38 PM

Hi Aphasia Sufferer's Daughter,

Your thoughts here and on a couple of other threads about "accompanying someone" are well-expressed. They bring to mind the great discussion that the VH community had a while back on How to accompany someone who is grieving

In the blog post that started the conversation Bearing Witness to Grief: A Hiker’s Companion Guide, author Shelly Hermer says she, like many of us often graple with the "very thing people sometimes need: the ability to wait, to stand beside and to stay in their moment." I think that you'll enjoy reading the whole conversation

While I agree with the last line of your message above, I wonder what one can do in the case when the dying person rejects community, especially when community is what the family caregiver wants and needs?


 
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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
17 Feb 2014, 11:11 PM

Sneak in community. Get a cleaning lady who will chat or eat her lunch in the same room as your parent. Bring in a very patient dog to just sit there. Give the person a treat to give the dog , or give the dog a treat and let the person watch. Comb the dog in the room where the person is. Have your friend send the person a card in the mail ( I did this for a friend's mom - and she sent my mom one. Have a cousin phone just to say Hi. Show someone something that your parent did ( something they made or fixed) with your parent in the room. Be content for it to be a one time thing. Be content to say nothing or to do all the talking. Have a person watch TV with your parent, or listen to the radio with them . have a person read to your parent. Little things. Have your parent sit in her wheelchair beside you while you wash dishes. Put a towel on the table and give your parent one thing to dry. Let your friend or your kid take it when it is dry and put it away. Give them another thing (something small and light. If possible something they liked...a cup from her China, his favorite beer mug...etc. Simple things. Just the kind of things they would do In ordinary life.
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
17 Feb 2014, 11:23 PM

Thank you. You offer very practical and valuable suggestions for "sneaking" in community. 
Colleen 
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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
18 Feb 2014, 12:19 AM

I joined a gym today. My mum is dead. I am giving myself the gift of my body.I am going everyday until Mother's Day. Care for the bereaved caregiver. I am planning on living at the cottage all summer. I am going to rent out my house next winter and go to Europe for a year. I am giving myself the gift of travel. I will paint my way across Europe. I may never come home. I have spent 11 years seeing my mum thru. My dad is healthy. I am giving myself the gift of travel with a healthy body.
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
18 Feb 2014, 1:17 AM

Wow. Good for you! What wonderful gifts to give yourself. As they say "priceless". Joining a gym is a great way to kick start everything.
 
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