Are you a carer for others in your family? Maybe you’ve suddenly found yourself being surrounded by little people who demand attention every waking moment in the midst of coming to terms with the unknown future you hold? This is for you…
Hidden in the depths of our heart is a little question that sometime jumps out and surprises us but we try to keep it under lock and key, taking control.
Its mostly quiet, but sometimes its loud and demanding and occasionally it screams for attention. It can sound helpless, hopeless and weak. Its honest and real, but we’ve been told its selfish. Not by anyone in particular, but by the silent voices we carry within us – past relationships, family values, stories and movies of sacrificial heroes. They all build a moral code within us of whats right and whats wrong. Yet still, as carers, consumed with caring for others and overwhelmed by the needs around us, we have this little question lurking within… ‘What about me?’ I have images of a 5 year old having a tantrum, stamping feet while shouting ‘What about me?’ The truth is, that question doesn’t disappear. We just learn to reason with or shut down that inner child. When we find ourselves in a situation that demands more than we can give, that question can bubble up inside and it becomes harder to reason and control the emotion driving it, so we shut down feeling altogether and get on with it. There’s a problem with that coping mechanism though – we shut down our ability to experience the fullness of joy.
Be kind to yourself. You matter and feelings are important. They are often what drive us, even subconsciously. Take five minutes or longer if you can (set an alarm and get up before the rest of the house). Allow yourself to hear that question, really hear it and take time to grieve what you have sacrificed and the hopes and dreams you had that will never be. Its ok to be not ok. Grieving is a process that takes time. It ebbs and flows and the tide can come in unexpectedly but you soon learn how it flows and you discover its safe to paddle on the beach again. Life may look different to what you had hoped for but that doesnt mean you cant find new hope and new dreams. Go on, ask yourself, ‘what about me?’
The moment I embraced that question and honoured it with my time and attention, was the moment my outlook and life began to change. The shortest verse in the bible helped me to see that grief over circumstance is normal. ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35) and boy did I weep. Its been a process, but I’ve found new hope, new hobbies, new time and as a family we are rediscovering joy and happiness. So go on, weep, let it go and let it out. Then rediscover you, right in the middle of the circumstances that tried to silence you and hold you back. Dream. Hope. Believe.