Day 285: The Caregiver

Giving can be easy. Giving can be hard.

With Lars recovering from surgery, I’ve had to negotiate my time.

Last week, my first week at my new job, was a real struggle. And, this week, easier because Lars is back home in bed, instead of a hospital bed, is still difficult.

As a person who isn’t suffering, it’s hard to watch someone else go through hardship. It’s hard to see them be so strong and and so weak at the same time. It’s hard to understand what Lars is going through, mostly because I’m not sure that I do understand. What I do know is, that no matter what my level of understanding is, I have to be there.

It’s the hardest part about care giving. Knowing that you can’t really change someone else’s reality, but, still really wanting to. I hate that Lars is suffering. But, knowing what I know, what I’ve learned, I can’t change anything, so, the best I can do is accept. And, then in that acceptance of whatever I have to face, I have to suit up and show up. I have to be the strong face he needs, and, he does need it.

On the one hand, it’s nice to feel needed. It’s nice to know that my presence alone is a comfort. But, there’s also this level of expectation that isn’t so nice. This feeling that I should understand and sympathize with his situation at every moment. And, that’s something I can’t do. I don’t know what it is he’s feeling, and, that not-knowing, it makes sympathy hard sometimes. And so, I have to say that I know it’s hard for him, some nights, that’s the best I can do.

While it’s frustrating to feel powerless, yet, responsible, I also have the tools that AA has given me. This toolbox for living that has become infinitely invaluable in the last month. And, one thing I know is, sometimes we don’t know the answer, we hardly understand what’s wrong, much less how to fix it. And, in these moments, I just have to roll with it. I have to know that my God will take care of me. That Lars’ higher power will look after him. That, no burden that he gives me will be more than I can carry. That these feelings of discomfort, are really just growing pains. And, no matter how powerless I feel, I still have the ability to show up and be there.

And, if showing up is the best I can do, then, I will show up.

Just being with Lars in his time of need doesn’t feel like enough. I want to do more, be more. But, the more that idea frustrates me, the more I know that I’m complicating things. I know Lars doesn’t expect anything of me, and so, being there is enough. It has to be.

So I care for Lars the best way I know how, by giving what I have, which is my heart and all the time I can spare.

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