Go, go, go. I love the adrenaline of go. I love tight deadlines, multiple, multi-tasking projects, and to-do lists written in different, brightly colored markers. Yep, I like busy. At least I think I do. I’ve been writing to meet a deadline for so long that the deadline sometimes writes me into a corner. Then I multitask myself out and onward to the next list. Oh, the things I’ll get done!
Like a lot of children, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I was the youngest child of my father’s second marriage. My dad was decades older than my mom. In my father’s maturity, my mother found a sense of safety and stability. In my mother’s youth, my father found a fresh start and a lighter heart. What they saw in each other was genuine. And like many couples, what they saw, revealed, and became to each other changed over the course of their marriage.
Coming through a trauma with a changed but intact heart, mind, body and soul isn’t easy. It isn’t won and done. It’s a process that often has false starts, unrealistic expectations, of both ourselves and others, crippling fears, flattened hopes and exhausted bodies. And sometimes, all of that happens on a good day.
Caregiving is an ongoing endurance triathlon: swimming in dark, choppy waters, cycling a twisted, rutted road that ends in a cliff hanger, and running in every direction simultaneously. In the beginning, adrenaline and a sense of intensely focused purpose will get you a long way. But as you settle into the nearly completely unpredictable new normal of your life, you may find your energy, patience, resilience and sense of humor more difficult to rally. You may feel exhausted, sad, scared and alone.
Loss is a natural part of life. Intellectually, we know this, but emotionally, not so much. If we’re lucky, we have gentle losses when we’re kids that prepare us for the larger losses the lie ahead. And still, as practiced as we may believe we are with our manageable losses, nothing can adequately prepare us for the big ones, the ones that buckle our knees and take our breath away. Getting back on our feet and learning how to breathe again is a process that is neither linear nor won and done.