Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Responding to your inner 'circle'

How can one have a circle that is deemed theirs to be concerned? Sure there are those who are selfish and narcissistic enough to live withing their own little circle that is “ME”, but mostly people are good, caring and benevolent souls. We all have encountered situations where we feel, and then act, responsible. There is just something in us, even men, that makes us respond because our hearts will allow us not to respond.
Years ago, I would admonish myself for always doing for others. Why, to make them like me or, in some cases, to quell the situation? Then, one day, I decided I did not need to justify what or how I did for others. It is in me and it makes me happy. So, on that day, I chose to make myself happy. I am a caretaker, like many of you are, and I am happy ironing the seam in my (now ex-) husband’s shirts and pants and I can iron his work clothes too.
Outside of my ‘circle’, I worked in the health care field. In the mornings, for first medication rounds, instead of walking into the patient’s hospital room and flipping on the lights, I would turn on the bathroom light so there was just enough to see. And I would then bring them a warm washcloth for their hands and face, and go get a coffee/tea for them. Little considerations that make one’s day start a little nicer.
In the nursing homes/extended care facilities, as many of you may know, the patient’s often get taken out of bed, put in a wheel chair and lined up around the halls, many are still in their thin hospital gowns. My mother attitude kicked in and I would go to the Salvation Army and buy sweaters and sweat shirts/pants and socks and haul them back to bed. Can you imagine being on several medications that make you drowsy and being stuck in a wheelchair in a flimsy nightgown, under flourscent lights.
I was happy doing what my instincts told me and I didn’t feel guilty about ‘doing too much for my husband’ or ‘kissing up to the hospital administration’…okay, that didn’t happen, actually I got in trouble for a nondescript reason. But, the moral to the story is to do what your heart tells you, what makes your soul happy. Be good to yourself and it will enhance your inner ‘circle’ relationships

1 comment:

  1. Laura Davis

    December 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Nancy, my mother is in assisted living and i love thinking of her caregivers being as kind and thoughtful with her as you were with the people in the nursing homes. Thanks for sharing this portrait of caring and going the extra mile.


    December 4, 2013 at 5:15 am

    This was wonderfully affirming to read. I like that you just do what makes your soul happy without worry and knowing yourself as a caretaker are at peace with care taking. I’m often thinking about codependence and interdependence and this was another take. You are making your soul happy doing what it loves. I also particularly liked the ironing of your ex’s clothes.

    Nancy Qualls December 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Cissy, I like to iron-it is theraputic. I put on Andrea Bocelli and iron those seams. Once I accepted my caretaking, I was no longer co-dependent. They can put labels on you but if you ignore it you then give yourself permission to do what makes you happy.

    Nancy Qualls December 4, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Know that the hospitals and facilities have mostly loving, caring staff. The trouble is that the administrations keep the staff minimal and that adds more responsibilty to everyone, which leads to frustration. Just imagine that, because they are so busy during their shift, they have to clock out (no overtime) and stay another hour or two to do their charting. Altho I was a specialized therapist, I had no problem jumping in to change diapers or get something.

    Hina December 4, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Nancy, what a lovely piece. This is something I have been struggling with. Told I am ‘too nice and care about too many’ was what came from a therapist, she chided me and told me she didn’t want to be added to my list! Feeling like my understanding has been taken advantage of recently by those closest to me I have been feeling I need to close that part of me down.
    Your piece gives me permission to be who I am.

    Karla December 4, 2013 at 8:03 am

    This piece really resonated with me, as a caretaker who also observes other caretakers. I think I can often tell when a caretaker is helping others based on some intrinsic motivation (as you describe in this piece) or whether it is for some extrinsic purpose– for the “glory” or the “kissing up” (as you say)– as these later motivations usually reveal the caretaker’s resentment or unhappiness at some point. I have watched my mother care for my 90 year old father, severely disabled by a stroke 5 years ago that has left him virtually speechless, blind, deaf, and unable to be left alone for more than a hour at a time. Many people (including me) would say that she is doing “too much”, but over time I’ve come to accept that this is just who she is, and she’s doing it out of love and that really shows. So your piece really struck a chord with me, and thank you for bringing a voice to caretakers who “care too much.”

    Nancy Qualls December 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Karla, I think the fourteen years that my mother cared for my father, who had Parkinson’s, gave me this mindset. The last seven he was bedbound and unable to move. He did not spend one day in the hospital or ECF because of her faithful and loving care, just like you and your mother does for your dear father.
    There is a healthy co-dependence and a healthy need for one to do what their soul deems. Once I made up my mind that I was going to follow myself, I was no longer co-dependent on my (ex) husband, and no one’s opionion will affect me.
    I am overwhelmed by all of your responses, thank you.
    Amen Hazel!

    Hazel December 4, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.
    As a therapist who was always being accused of doing too much for those I cared for, I am glad you have given voice to us. I never regretted or resented any of the things I did for those who could not care for themselves.