This is not the piece I had intended to post this week. I wrote another one comparing a job description for a CNA that I saw online to the reality of all our job entails. I spent the afternoon on it and put quite a bit of energy and heart into it. I was proud of that piece. So you can imagine my horror when I somehow accidentally deleted it.
It is GONE! Nowhere to be found. As are the hours I spent writing it. It was more than the effort though. I write as I go. No rough drafts. Just an idea, a notion that I flesh out by putting pen to paper or,in this case, fingers to keyboard. I can’t go back and recapture the flow or directions of the words. It wouldn’t come out the same. And I was so upset.
Truth be told, it had been an emotional day anyway, but this was the proverbial straw that broke the overly sensitive-mildly-neurotic-camel-who-is-walking-through-some-challenging-life-circumstances back. And OH! The self indulgent weep fest that followed the moment I was alone was a sight to behold! For fifteen solid minutes I cried and felt sorry for myself; that deep cry that kids do, when the air escapes from the lungs in gasps and fluid flows freely from every orifice on your face and your nose gets all stuffy. I was not a pretty sight.
After I managed to pull myself together, the absurdity of my reaction sunk in. I deleted a blog post. I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer. For that matter, I have seen more than one person cope with such a diagnosis with more grace and dignity than I handled the loss of a bit of writing. My imaginary dog didn’t die…the fact that I have an imaginary dog is a topic for another post. My point is, it was an overreaction and caused me to pause and reflect.
I have found private care to be intensely personal. I work with one family and the shifts are long. A lot of the time in order to give care and enhance the quality of life for my client in the best possible way, I do what I can for the family unit as a whole. This can be overwhelming and often requires long periods of time in which my own emotions are compartmentalized. The pace and tone of my day is very much dependent on the mood of not only my client but also her husband. If there is conflict or frustration or anger, as there is bound to be in any relationship, I just have to work as if I don’t notice. There is nowhere to go and nothing I can say to alleviate it because it is not my place, though they treat me as one of the family. Some days, twelve hours feels like an eternity. Add to that the twenty-four hour news cycle that is constantly playing at work, a lack of sleep, a year full of major life changes and a fair amount of self doubt, its no wonder that I had my meltdown.
I am a woman who pushes through my feelings. I keep it moving and try not to let ’em see me sweat. There is work to be done in this life and I was lucky enough to get a second chance when so many do not. I don’t take that for granted. Not for a second. The flip side to that coin is that I often don’t pay attention to my own emotions. Being a caregiver feeds into the habit of putting myself on the back burner. There is a thin line between caring enough to be effective in this field and not practicing self care. After pondering this for a little while, I decided to cut myself some slack, take a deep breath and begin my post anew.
As caregivers, we work for people living with serious conditions. Every person for whom I’ve cared has taught me countless lessons in gratitude and courage and hope in the face of fear. My own petty problems seem so small and silly in comparison that I don’t even like to acknowledge them but the fact of the matter is that is unhealthy thinking. My feelings and thoughts are no less valid than anyone else’s.
Regardless of whether or not I admit it, those feelings and stresses exist and by stuffing them down, they only build up to the point where accidentally deleting a post is a disaster of cataclysmic proportions. By addressing these moments as they arise, I can better understand their underlying cause and take the appropriate actions to maintain a healthy perspective. I may never do that perfectly, but being aware of it is a good step in the right direction.