The Invisible Transition into Caregiving

Do you remember when you became a caregiver? Was it an emergency surgery, a diagnosis, a fall, or slow decline of your loved one’s abilities? Did you decide to become a caregiver or did it just happen to you? For me, I just became a caregiver. In a sense, I was raised to be a caregiver as my mom was diagnosed with her illness the year I turned 8. Of course, my caregiving role evolved.  In that slow way evolution works or erosion changes the shape of the earth, it just slowly shifted, changed. What had started as my mom’s illness became my family’s disease, surrounding her, and me. I love my mom and devoted myself to being her caregiver even as I sought to raise my children, have a career, and develop my own relationships, hobbies, and passions. I was constantly shifting from roles, changing hats, and eventually wasn’t sure where my own “I AM A PERSON” hat went, but I had lost it. And then…I lost it. Overwhelmed, burned out, well, not burned out, more like burned to the ground, I felt hopeless and guilty for feeling hopeless. 


Becoming a Caregiver: A Story of Evolution (Erosion?), Not Decision


Do I remember the day I became a caregiver?  no. But I do remember the day I decided to stop allowing myself to believe I was hopeless and had no right or way to get out of my hopelessness. 

It was when I realized that I didn’t have hope because I didn’t have boundaries. And the reason I didn’t have boundaries? I was afraid to set and keep them.


My awareness of the simple fact that I was the one not asking for what I needed because I didn’t think I deserved it was the game changer. I had mistakenly believed that because my mom’s care was important, it was the only important thing or the thing that overrode every other important thing. 


The Tipping Point: Recognizing the Need for Boundaries

Once I became aware of my role in my suffering, burnout, guilt, and frustration, I started working toward using my voice to say what I needed. Now, I had decades of practice keeping my mouth shut, being convenient, and compliant with what everyone else needed me to do. (Note here: My caregiving behaviors extended into other areas of my life. I was not just at my mom’s beck and call; I was at everyone else’s, too.)

But slowly, I began to tell my mom that, though I had promised to fill in the gaps that she couldn’t do herself, I could no longer do it. She needed more help than me. I started building more opportunities to be with my family and setting boundaries around those times. I had to start small, and sometimes I failed…I didn’t keep the boundary or advocate for the right support. But I didn’t give up. I kept trying. I let go of the pride of wanting to be the “beloved and devoted caregiver” according to someone else’s expectations. I let go of the guilt of being unable to do it all. 


As I created more space in my days, in my life, I began to see myself again. I began to see possibility again…hope. I found hope. 


 My Path to Setting Boundaries: From Fear to Advocacy

With each step in my journey, I became more aware that I could have more goals than “get through this day, this hospital stay, this weekend, this crisis.” I also had more energy as I created the space in my schedule for genuine and regular rest, movement, nutrition, and connection with others. I picked back up on the hobbies I had long since retired. Ten years older but wiser and more confident than before, I got deep in the caregiving trenches. I did have to change how I set goals for myself and create new habits. The stuff in the habit books only sort of worked for me. I needed goals, but I needed to hold them with GRACE. I learned self-compassion. I have to be honest and tell you that showing myself love and compassion, just like I do my mom, my children, my husband, and the stranger on the street, has been a profound balm to my weary and worn-out soul. It’s ok to love yourself, friend. I promise. 


I spent most of my childhood and adult life doing anything but loving myself. I didn’t always hate myself, per se, but I was ashamed of myself, afraid for myself, disappointed in myself, and did so many things to avoid really being myself and a part of myself. 


Finding Hope and Self in the Space I Created

The awareness, the clarity, the understanding that I was worthy of my voice, my space, my own dreams and hopes…I did not learn this truly until I had to fight for it.  The great burden of caregiving brought me the greatest blessing. Learning to love myself, to love being in my own life, my own body, and my own relationships, also showed me how to be in a relationship with my mother that could be full of care and hope but not guilt or codependency.


Beyond Survival: Setting Goals with Grace and Self-Compassion

Rediscovering myself helped me rediscover caregiving as not a series of tasks but of moments filled with a deeper connection. My mom and I? We are still learning to love one another through all of this, to care and be cared for, to use our voices for what matters…and we both matter.


And you matter. 


You Matter: A Message of Hope and Solidarity

You are worthy of love from yourself. You are worthy of care, grace, and freedom from guilt and overwhelm. You may feel lost, stuck between blessing and burden, not knowing the way out. That is why I am here. You are not alone on this journey. I am here to support you, share my journey, and show you how I navigated from burnout to breakthrough, from hopeless to happy, from guilt to good.    


If my story resonates with you and you are ready to start a new journey, from hopeless to happy, from guilt to good, I am ready to help! Get started today with a 30-minute RESET call! Click here.

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