Thoughts From A Caregiver
As a caregiver to a chronic migraine sufferer, I can tell you that sometimes things are challenging to say the least. There will be days when you feel like nothing helps. From time to time, you might feel unappreciated. You might feel like you are missing out because of your responsibilities. You will feel frustrated and possibly even angry. Unchecked, all of this stress can lead to feelings of resentment that will destroy your relationship.
My experience with negative caregivers
I have seen first-hand through support groups for caregivers, people who all but hated their significant other because of the toll chronic pain had taken on their relationships. These caregivers openly criticized and demeaned their loved ones on social media outlets to complete strangers. I found it difficult to stay in these groups and simply keep my thoughts to myself when such rants took place. I did though not because I agreed with these people’s complaints, but because sometimes we have to be willing to agree to disagree.
Have I ever had any of the same thoughts in my personal life? Absolutely! The difference is in how I choose to respond to those thoughts or feelings when I have had them. We all have wants and needs in life. Equally, we all go through times where some or all those wants and needs are not being met.
A life not according to plan
I came from humble beginnings. My parents did their absolute best to teach me right from wrong. They taught me to treat others, as I wanted to be treated, to be responsible, to be caring and compassionate and to try to be the best version of myself that I could be. Yet, even amongst all the guidance I was given, by the time I was 19, I had destroyed my credit almost beyond repair, before I really knew what exactly credit was.
Fast forward a few decades. I am now married to my fourth wife. I still have no college education and each day that seems less likely to happen. I have four very strong children who are all but grown and rarely speak to me. Not because of any negativity, but the miles between us makes it easy to forget to call or send a text from either direction.
I grew up on an island in northeast Florida. Since I was 9 or 10 years old, I’ve dreamt of sailing around the world living my life on the sea. I wanted to experience other places and cultures in ways that weren’t described in text books. I wanted to experience rain forests by the feel of sweat from the humidity, caused by the canopy of treetops. I wanted to listen to the sound of waterfalls pouring down over the rocks and smell the air in an otherwise untouched or unaltered place free from the smog filled air we are all so accustomed to these days, instead of learning about it all through advertisements and pictures.
My life didn’t turn out that way. It didn’t go according to my plan. Speaking also as a combat veteran, I can tell you; a plan only lasts until the first bullet flies or the first bomb detonates. Everything that happens after that moment, is a series of reactions and choices that lead you to where you are now.
A request for caregivers
For any caregivers out there feeling burdened about their life not going as planned, I would like to propose a small experiment. Go back to the first paragraph and reread it. Only this time, remove the first portion of the first sentence “As a caregiver to a chronic migraine sufferer”. Start from “I”, and ask yourself what else that paragraph describes.
For me, the paragraph describes every relationship I have ever had. For that matter, it describes most of my life; both personally and professionally, right down to the letter.
Your dreams may be very different from mine. In all honestly, life would be dull if we all wanted the exact same things. The point is that there were a million different things stopping me from achieving my dreams of being a world traveler, long before I ever met my beautiful wife. Her medical condition had nothing to do with me not achieving that particular dream. To this day, she is my number one supporter of that dream.
There is a common misconception that love is an emotion that can change or fade somehow over time. The same thing applies to happiness. In reality, loving someone is a choice. Whether you live out your days in a state of depression or in a state of happiness is also a choice. I chose to marry my wife, for better or for worse, in sickness AND in health. If given the opportunity, I would choose it all over again.
My wife didn’t choose to be sick, and she never asked me to be her caregiver. I chose to be that for her because I couldn’t imagine my life without her.