Don't Feed The Alligators


Don't Feed The Alligators

For the better part of a week, I have been staying in a residence that was built specifically to provide affordable housing to family members with patients in the New Hanover Regional Medical system in Wilmington, N.C. My husband is the patient in the hospital, or, was the patient in the hospital. This place is an oasis for all of us who are going back and forth to the hospital, need to be comforted and need to rest.

At the back of the grounds of the place where I am staying there is a black, metal fence separating the common area from the banks of a pond. I have seen ducks sitting on the water as if waiting for their leader to establish the walk of the day. But it took me three days to notice a sign on the black, metal fence and in clear lettering which read, "DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS!" For a moment I felt silly and waited for the hidden cameras to show up telling me it was a joke. No cameras showed up. I am one of those people who does not have to be told more than once that there are alligators nearby and not to feed them. Finally, a simple request! I can do this one. No problem. I will not feed the alligators!

Today I thought about the sign and knew immediately that it could apply to my journey as a caregiver. Do not feed the alligators dovetails nicely into a way of reminding myself to resist the temptation to allow me to wallow in self-pity, anger, resentment, long-suffering and pride. I can feed those "alligators" and risk the pain of incurring the pain and suffering.

So, two days have passed since I wrote the last paragraph. I sound mature and I actually make sense but the truth is that the very next day all the alligators came running up from the swamp in my mind and attacked me without provocation. I did not get to feed them or foolishly entice them. In the course of events, the alligator fence gate sprung open and I commenced to wallowing in self-pity, anger, resentment, fear and several other character defects I cannot name. Long story short, when life got real, I got crazy with the stress and pressure I felt.

Running from those alligators is how I found myself headed south out of Wilmington, NC in the direction of Myrtle Beach when I live about eighty miles north of Wilmington, N.C. I blamed it on WAZY, my faithful GPS. I ended my southern travels in the parking lot of a local grocery store. No one around me knew that my husband was in a nursing home for rehab and out of his mind a bit and I was hurting emotionally and bewildered by my short trip south. My main thought involved a word that rhymes with truck and starts with What The....! But, I recentered WAZY and headed north blowing right by an exit WAZY forgot to mention. I made a U-turn and put the pedal to the metal. WAZY and I were on course and the rest of the day is a blur. If I was fully conscious for the remainder of the trip I cannot prove it by anything I remember. I pulled into our parking space at home and managed to take my stuff inside.  The day with all of the challenges and crazy errors began to fade from my mind.

I am making jokes. Comedians are often at their best when they are hurting. Oh, by the way, some of us pretend we are comedians when we are under stress. I am hurting and feeling so hurt for my husband. Not hurt enough to buy a blow-up mattress and sleep in the room with Robert at the nursing home. Nope. I am not hurting that kind of bad. And, yes, I was told I could stay in his room. But, no! Just no! I am going back to Wilmington and I will visit and I will love on him and encourage him but the airbed on the nursing room floor is not on my agenda.

What is food for the alligators of my mind?

Poor me

Why is this happening now?

I cannot do this caregiving thing.

Who will look after me when I get sick?

Lack of sleep


Holding in my feelings

Don't feed the alligators! I whisper this again and again. Don't feed the alligators.

Alligator Repellant

Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

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