Some Advice for Family Caretakers

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Waldo P. Schmeer

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There are some of us that get trapped in a burden of being a caretaker for family. I see it as a burden at least. My family is not and has never been the most loving. Just a group of neurotics and toxic minded people. I do understand that not all families are like this. But I dont have the love and patience to put on the whole ¨We are a united family¨ front. Because I am currently taking care of my mother who had a stroke. And speaking specifically and only to our own situation, but she is just trying to roll over and die. Not doing her therapies. Always complaining about pain when its impossible to hurt (given the grade and quality of the medication that she was given). Due to the stroke, shes combative and ornery. And to be quite honest, knowing her from before the stroke, I am fully certain that she is milking this for the attention. I observe her and I do know that she goes in and out of moods, as people do post strokes. And the next minute shes smiling and watching TV.

She only has me and my father, and he is the only one humoring her. I am not. We are now approaching 2 months since the stroke and she was very fortunate. No slurred speech. No real memory damage. Just lots of confusion and mood. We are way past the time to work. Sit up. Do therapy. I know she is bullshitting half the time because as soon as therapists come to visit to check her progress, suddenly she is the cooperation queen. Suddenly she can try to move this and that. Suddenly she is in better spirits.

If you are a caretaker, please give yourself some grace. You are not responsible for the condition that your family member is in. You are not personally responsible for their care, although you may do it out of love or the kindness of your heart. You should not feel guilty for taking 5 minutes to have a cup of coffee. You should not feel guilty for taking a minute to go pee. You should not feel guilty that you still have your health. No, you did not have professional training. You are not a professional and their condition would have happened despite you.

MY PERSONAL REALIZATIONS
However her final outcome turns out from this experience, I have decided that I am going to write off my family. All of them. My two siblings are the absolute first to go. They are both aware of this and I have been battling this for 2 months and have not yet seen either of their faces. They contribute nothing to my life, and I have contributed plenty to theirs, financially speaking.

My mother will also be another person that I write off. It pains me to have come to this realization so late in life (because I now see how much of the enjoyment of my youth its cost me), but I have been the one child of hers to help her manage every single crisis she has faced. I thought I was being a good son and fulfilling some invisible code of loyalty to my family. But in reality, I was like a drug supplier and she was addicted to the drug called help. We do not even have a traditional family that we can rely on for help. This is because she has burned every single bridge in her life- with her family, distant family, friends, acquaintances, and has even burned bridges with OTHER peoples friends- which is why I have stopped sharing my personal life with her. She is, in short, just a shitty manipulative person overall.

My father will be written off in general because he is an abusive manipulator who only stopped doing so because he is old now. I will never forget the beatings he gave us as kids, and the mockery that he would use to break us down, as well as the way he would celebrate at our failures, learning opportunities, and short comings as people.

Despite my current depression and mood, I have been eagerly waiting and looking forward to this. I cannot stop thinking about the spare time I will have without having to do basic shit for people all day, like make appointments and take people who have spouses and vehicles to places and things that no one else wants to do. I am fully prepared for the blow back because I know people who have had to step away from family like this and I know what follows: I will be viewed as narcissistic, selfish, angry, and bitter. I will be an ¨asshole¨ and ¨stuck up¨ because my own time and money will be reserved for myself. I will remind you a quote that a co-worker once told me: ¨You always know you are headed in the right direction because you keep making enemies¨.

But to be quite honest, I know I am not long for this world myself. Something tells me that I will not be living a full long life. Although in my 30s now, I have some modicum of a sense of youth left that I want to enjoy by doing things that matter to me. I have decided that I cannot care about other peoples lives more than they do. I am a human being here too, just like everyone else and I deserve comfort and I am allowed to be tired too. Please do not dismiss this as the ¨rantings of a selfish person¨. Please understand that this stroke situation isn´t the beginning of this. This has been my entire adult life. And I finally possess the hindsight and desire to just walk away from it all and try to find my own comforts in life, instead of living just to make everyone comfortable.

If you are a caretaker for your family, you have my sympathy and for the love of god, please give yourself grace. You are just trying to figure it out like everyone else. You matter. What you want in life matters. What is important to you IS important. And you deserve a chance to enjoy some of your life on your terms. You are not a bad person for feeling frustrated. You are not ¨against¨ your family because you would rather take a rest some days. You deserve rest. You deserve food. You deserve love. You deserve a warm shower. You are amazing for trying when everyone else chooses the easy route. And because of this, you will not be a stranger to calamity when it presents itself. The people who chose to hide behind you will have the worst time of their lives when that comes. But you will not have the time to deal with that because you left it all on the battlefield already.
 

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