“Alone” is the New Black

For the caregiver who’s patient is themselves.

When you are facing an illness that would over power an elephant, the first thing one does is lean into their spouse and family. If you are misfortunate enough to be alone — I don’t mean unloved… I mean ALONE in the sense of having no one available to care for you in the way your illness requires, vulnerability and fear rise to a new height.

For those who find asking for help difficult to begin with, there is a special kind of twist. For everyone who is facing the daunting task of caring for their loved one, as you look in the mirror, the loved one who needs your love and care the most is you.

I don’t know when the numbness of the diagnosis begins to wear off, or if it should. I don’t know how you keep yourself well cared for as you hold your own head, and get your own strength up, but somehow strength kicks in.

When you also have others that continue to rely on you is when higher powers come in to play. The energy of the universe simply must abide or the saying, “every man for himself,” takes on the kind of meaning that is simply not possible for a dependent child or parent.

What to do first:

Cry — loudly and fearlessly until your eyeballs hurt. Next, remember how amazing your breath is to the universe, and without it, the earth would be slightly off its gravitational center. Self-love takes on a whole new meaning, as does self-care and gratitude.

Focus on everything that is going well in every second, and appreciate your strength. These are the moments that literally change our perceptions of ourselves. Hold them close as you race to the bathroom and lie on the cool, tiled floor. Although it seems counter intuitive, this is the time to be thankful for the ability to get up eventually and put yourself back to bed.

Your aching for acknowledgement of the extreme strength, persistence and love you are and have, seems endless.

Hold on. You will feel better. Your life’s meaning will definitely shift, and joy will be ever so sweet, just not at this moment. The most intense caregiving is to the self. It requires every emotion to carry you, vulnerability to keep you healing, and anger to fuel persistence.

Hold yourself in your heart, as you are conquering your worst fears while you are showing up for yourself in ways you didn’t think possible.

Nothing and everything matters for those who care to care for themselves.

About Jean Wolfe Powers, LMFT