I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself at times. I also know that I may at times play the martyr. What I didn’t realize is that I sometimes threat others the way I don’t like them to treat me, too.
Feeling Sorry for Myself
When others are able to go out, make plans that they can actually carry out, sit quietly and read or watch a TV show without interruption, I feel jealous. I can hear the smallest violin in the world playing, “Poor Pitiful Me,” while I sit and think about how unfair it is that I can’t do those things. I look on with envy at those who can eat while their food is still warm or who can go to bed before 2:00 a.m. when I’m still up preparing dinner or feeding Lynn. I want those options too and I sometimes resent not being able to be like everyone else.
Then, I look at Lynn who can’t walk, can’t feed himself, and is totally reliant on someone else to do for him. I see how sad and guilty he feels when he watches me give up plans or be unable to have fun like others. I hear him apologize when I’m struggling to stay awake to finish my day or when he has to get me up at night. I see how his life is so much harder than mine and I’m ashamed of how I feel though I know I’m human and my feelings are natural.
Playing the Martyr
Though I don’t consciously play the martyr, I think somewhere in my subconscious I deny myself the opportunities I mentioned above because I want to be recognized as self-sacrificing. Could I go to bed sooner? Maybe, if I let some things “go” or if I did not indulge in distractions like listening to books on tape or reading about my friends on Facebook. When others offer to stay with Lynn, I’m reluctant to say yes because I don’t want to appear as if I’m neglecting him or I say no because I’m concerned since they don’t know his comfort needs, that he might be uncomfortable while I’m away. I also feel that as I become more isolated from participating in activities that it’s more and more difficult to bring myself to socialize. I also admit that I like receiving praise for what I do. I like the compliments and recognition that come with being the self-sacrificing spouse. Yes, I admit it; I have a “sick” personality at times.
I Treat Others the Way I DON’T Want To Be Treated
I have been assuming that one of Lynn’s family members wanted to help out in his care if he was around. Therefore, I would often ask this person to lift or feed him when I was feeling achy or tired and he was around. I heard from others that he is feeling unappreciated and taken for granted. He had been thinking that the only reason we asked him to come with us to places was for his strength and ability to help out. That’s not true; we invite him to places because we love him and enjoy being with him but I can understand how he’s feeling. When someone (me) assumes that he wants to do my work and help me out, that’s being disrespectful of his time and personal commitments. There are others who can help. I should share the requests for help with then as well and not call on him all the time. I know how it feels to think you are being taken for granted or that your only purpose is to serve others. It hurts to feel that way and if it continues, resentment is inevitable. I don’t want that to happen, so I’m making a conscious effort to ask and not assume; to express my appreciation for help given; and to do as much as I can on my own so he won’t feel burdened by the number of requests I make.
Being a caregiver does not make me an angel. These are all less than flattering behavior flaws in my personality. They are behaviors I need to be aware that I have and behaviors I need to improve. I hope if I have offended anyone when behaving this way that they will provide me with grace and forgiveness. I really need them in my life; not just to help me but because they are who they are.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We want to check in. How are you feeling?