Yes, guilt. The thing that parents and children are experts at giving out.

No matter how well I feel I’m doing, I never feel like I’m doing it well enough, or quickly enough, or thoroughly enough. I’m told that it’s important to take time for myself, so I insist on having health care workers come. Then I wind up doing errands and taking my dad to appointments the entire time I have help.

I don’t think my parents understand the concept of “me” time sometimes. I’d like to stay home and bury myself in my bed or work on a project without interruption, but if I do, my mom wants to talk to ME, ask ME a  question, ask ME to do something (as opposed to having the health care worker do it). I suppose I need to tell my parents I’m leaving, open and close the door, and then creep back upstairs with a packed lunch for later.

Even if I’m out and about, I’m subject to a call from time to time from my mom asking when I’ll be home (this only happens when my dad is around and dials the phone for her) in tears. I told my husband I guess I don’t think I’m very important, because the needs of everyone else trump mine. I’ve stopped planning to do something in the future because there is always some crisis that trumps my plans and knocks them out of the ballpark. How can my dream of taking a class to have fun take precedence over a son or daughter’s anxiety attack or a mother’s pain, or surgery, or weakness? If something has to give, it’s going to be my plans. If I were to choose to follow my desires, would guilt make them impossible to enjoy?

I wonder if other caregivers feel the same way. How do they reconcile these feelings?

I have an appointment with a new psychologist tomorrow. Yes, I’m going to the appointment. I hope this is a good match. Maybe I can find a way to enjoy my life.


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