Distance of Family Turns into Healing with Friends

Since my dad’s death, six months ago, I have been the primary care companion, despite having two siblings, in my mom’s life. (I prefer the word ‘companion’ as I have been so much more than just a giver of care.)

Lately being there day in and day out is finally catching up with me. Yesterday I was so fatigued the crabbies were nearly getting to me. It took everything I had not to scream. Even listening to inspirational music did nothing to nullify my wayward feelings.

Not only am I present in my Mom’s life, I also work during the day. The most frustrating part is not getting much needed support from my siblings. I have since learned, from venting to several friends, many care companions are in the same predicament.

At the beginning of this year, I sent my siblings a letter, with a calendar for January, requesting their help. Not surprisingly I have yet to receive a response. A few months back I was ranting to my oldest son about the excuses they came up with to avoid visiting my dad on a regular basis when he was dying as well as my mom when she was in rehab. My oldest had one comment. “Mom, they’ve been like that for years. Why do you think they would change now?”

Why do I? I guess I assumed, despite the past, when one of my parents would need help, we would do so. Yeah, what’s that saying? In assuming, you make an ass out of you and me. And what an ass I feel like.

Yet it was a couple of days ago, driving to work in the early morning hours, I had some revelations while pondering why my siblings behave the way they do. This came after two nights of restless sleep worrying about whether I should have sent the letter or kept my mouth shut. Here is what I concluded-

  1. Sending the letter has given me slight peace of mind. I tried, voicing my concerns about my mom and giving reasons why my siblings needed to help out. It’s in their court now and if they choose not to step up, it’s not my problem but theirs.

  2.  Not receiving a response has confirmed my feelings of not continuing to engage in a relationship with my siblings, unless it is absolutely necessary. I am already mentally preparing for when my mom is gone and the estate stuff has been taken care of. My feelings are growing, more and more, to disassociate myself from their lives.

  3. The biggest revelation of all? Realizing I am wasting precious time living with resentment and anger towards two people who don’t seem to give a shit. As a result I have chosen to redirect these feelings in a more positive way towards my mom and the friends I now consider my family.

It hurts to come to the realization that being related by blood doesn’t necessarily constitute a family. But my son is right. For years,  there has been mimimal support, constant excuses and disregard for my parents, whom have needed to have care companions for a while.  Distancing myself from the lives of my siblings is the only way I can currently retain some peace, push through the fatigue and not feel guilty when I take time for myself.

The biggest lesson from all this? I know when my mom dies it will likely be harder for me than when my dad died as our relationship has deepened in love. I also know I will be able to say, ‘Till we meet again’ without guilt or regret.

Going forward I have my circle of friends, my grown up children, and my faith. For God has never given me anything He thought I couldn’t handle. Even when I disagreed!

God has a plan and when I place all my trust in Him, I know despite any stress, angst, fatigue, resentment or anger, He will provide strength, light, and wisdom. And ultimately, with Him walking along beside me, I am never ever alone, no matter what or the circumstances or where I end up.

Blessings and hoping if you are a struggling care companion, you have support, whether family or friends,

Annie

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