Put Guilt Back in the Box

There are a multitude of emotions that play into being a caregiver or being the one with the chronic disease that needs the care. Which emotion takes front stage on any given day is affected by how you feel, how the other person feels, how much sleep you got the night before and what else happened that day.  One of the emotions that I have to battle more often than most is guilt. I think I struggle with it the most because I can’t seem to be what I think I should be and I can’t always do what I think I should be able to do. In my own mind, I know that when I say I will do something, I absolutely know that I can do it—I am quite capable; I have the knowledge, the skills and the ability to do what I say I can do.  Then something happens to prevent me from getting to it or doing it as well as I had wanted to do, and the guilt sets in.

I am extremely fortunate that I have a job that can be done from almost anywhere as long as I have a phone, a computer, and access to the internet.  Since I have all three at home, my manager allows me to telework.  I come on site at least once a week usually to attend meetings or to provide training.  I often attend meetings through teleconferencing but sometimes I just need to see a person’s reaction to be able to pick up on how a conversation is really going. On the days I go in, I often set up back to back meetings so I waste no time when I’m there.  To go onsite, it takes a minimum of four hours to get ready to go.  Unfortunately, our morning routine does not always go as planned.  Not to gross anyone out but sometimes the bathroom process doesn’t go as well as we would hope and it puts me way behind schedule.  Other times, I get a text from whoever was supposed to come that day saying they woke up with a runny nose or cough.  We try not to expose Lynn to any infectious or viral conditions because it sets him back so far so I scramble to find a replacement and often, that’s impossible so I have to stay home.  I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.  I feel so guilty when I have to reschedule appointments or even when I have to say that I’ll need to talk to them by phone because I know they would prefer to talk face to face.  Though I still manage (usually) to get the work done, it’s not how I wanted to do it or when I needed to do it so I feel guilty and very critical of myself.

Now, flip that coin.  When I have to cancel going into work because Lynn’s body refuses to do what we need it to do or we can’t get someone to stay with him so he doesn’t have to be alone (note:  he can stay alone for maybe an hour or even two at most but no longer than that because he can’t get food, drink, or empty the urinary drainage bag for himself), Lynn feels so guilty.  He knows that I am jeopardizing my reputation for his sake.  Knowing that if he could just do those things for himself, I would not be under the pressure I live under every day makes him very depressed at times.  I need to be able to share my frustrations with him but I hesitate to do so because I know that guilt will certainly rear its ugly head.    It doesn’t matter that he has no control over what happened and that he absolutely can’t do these necessary things for himself so it’s really not his “fault” but to his way of thinking, it’s entirely his fault because if not for him…..  He is also afraid that one day, I’ll be so overwhelmed with all the responsibility and so tired of the struggles, that I’ll just walk away; so on the one hand he feels guilty and on the other hand he feels afraid. Yuck.

Read more at: http://multiplesclerosis.net/blog/put-guilt-back-box/

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About mscaregiverdonna

I am a full-time caregiver for my spouse who has Multiple Sclerosis while I try to work full-time, take care of our home, and handle any number of other functions that used to be shared by the two of us. I'm learning that it's amazing what you can do when you have to and when you have God to send you the resources you need to manage moment by moment.
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