I Have Lost, But I Have Gained More

Virginia

I Have Lost, But I Have Gained More

Virginia
grape-997609_640As human beings, it's difficult to not compare our lives, situations, "luck", etc. to others. I think we all know that doing so is one of the most toxic things to do to ourselves, but as soon as we hear or see any little thing at all, our brains are working to make us dwell on it whether it be for half of a second, or for days on end afterwards. Ever since elementary school I can remember having a problem with comparing my life to others, and sadly, as a family caregiver, that can only get worse sometimes. "Why is this happening to my family?" "What are we going to do?" "Who is going to take care of me once I'm done taking care of who I'm taking care of?"

A few weeks ago I graduated from college. I'd been going to a community college for the past four years even though I was only working on my Associate's degree which is, of course, a two-year degree. Due to being my mom's caregiver, I chose to take as many classes online as I could so that I could stay home with her, while also not overwhelming myself with more than four classes in one semester so that I could focus and get the best grades possible. Society makes young adults feel like taking time in school is a sin, but I eventually got over that and put my health and well-being first so that I could excel. When graduation rolled around last month, I was extremely proud of myself. I had fallen in love with my Human Services major (with a focus in gerontology/disabilities) and was so excited that I was finally done because I had felt like I had been in school forever. My peers that I went to elementary, middle, and high school with growing up though started to post about how they graduated from their great four-year schools, and how they were throwing graduation parties with all of their friends, and how they were celebrating by traveling to far away places. Their photos of themselves posing in their caps and gowns really got to me. I didn't even go to my ceremony because since I took a majority of my classes online, I had not met any people or made friendships, and also my mom would not have been able to attend the laborious event and if she would not be able to watch me walk across that stage I didn't even want to bother.

I don't like looking back on certain aspects of my past, but with this particular chapter of my life coming to an end, it was hard not to. Social anxiety and caregiving have prevented me from taking part in many activities and school functions from middle school on. I never went on spring break with a group of friends, I never went to any school dances, I never have had a birthday party with friends, I was never comfortable with sleepovers, I never went off to college and had that dorm room/camaraderie experience that many probably take for granted, I've never had a tight group of girlfriends to hang out with, support me, and share life with, and oh boy the list could go on. I feel like caregiving has made me miss out on so much. While others got to go through that period of life where they could be carefree, have fun, make mistakes, travel, etc. I never got to do any of that because ever since middle school I have had to be an adult. I have had to take care of another human being, my mother. Dad has always helped out, but while he is at work all day, it has all fallen onto me. I could dwell on that fact and think about how different my life would be if I had just had a "normal" life with "normal" parents, but then I am always brought back down to Earth with the fact that I am very blessed and thankful.

No matter our age or caregiving situation, we could all choose to hate our lives, blame the person we're caring for, blame the world, hate the world, and let that jealousy and sadness overrule the time that we have on this planet, but for all of those "nevers" that I just listed above, there are so many more "haves" that I could share, and I think you could agree as well. I have been able to learn the importance of respect, patience, generosity, hospitality, and responsibility at an incredibly young age. I have been able to build an unbreakable bond with my parents. I have been able to gain a new respect for home health care workers and other various passionate workers who truly care about making a difference in people's lives. I have been able to look at life in a completely refreshed, genuine, and unselfish way. I have been able to realize that life is an insane gift and should not be handled carelessly. I have been able to become an advocate for the elderly and disabled, two groups of people who do not get the amount of respect, love, and help they need and deserve. I have been able to connect with other wonderful caregivers and advocates...and oh boy the list could go on. :)

Caregiving is difficult, draining, frustrating, and saddening at times. The government and people in power in your county or town probably do not give you the resources and assistance you need. Sudden health issues can arise. Burnout can occur. So many negatives in life in general can spring up and engulf us, but as caregivers we all have superpowers. Although we have lost, we have gained so much more.

Like this article? Share on social

3 Comments

Sign in to comment

BeccaB

Hi, Virginia, this was beautifully written and so true! It is easy to look back in regret --- I do a lot of it! Through journaling I'm turning a corner. Also we are each unique individuals! You are unique and beautiful. Wishing you all the best!

Denise

I marvel at your wisdom and maturity. You will do so well in life and achieve so much.\r\n\r\nI look back at my 20s and think that I wasted time rather than making it. You make time because you appreciate it. :)\r\n\r\nWe're so proud of you and so excited for all the future holds just for you.

Lillie Fuller

Very well stated! Thank you so much for sharing.