"Remember to Take Care of Yourself"

Denise

"Remember to Take Care of Yourself"

Denise
hand-846092_640When my folks have a crisis, I feel somewhat inundated with others telling me:

"Remember to take care of yourself."

I can't tell you how crazy this makes me.

Last summer, a colleague who cares for a family member sent me a few check-in texts. "How's your mom," he asked. I shared a few quick updates and then he said, "Are you eating right, taking breaks?"

I responded that I just finished a snack of Greek yogurt and fruit and had walked to the hospital to see my mom.

What I really wanted to say was, "Did you stop smoking?"

This colleague is a heavy smoker with cigarette butts all over the car he uses to transport his caree as well as the house he shares with his caree. I've not ever said anything about his smoking and the harm the smoking does not only to him but to his caree.

I don't say anything because he's an adult. He knows.

When people tell me to take care of myself, I want to say, "How do you know that I'm not?"

The assumption people make is that I'm not. But do they know for sure?

I'm adult. I'm doing the best I can.

Rather than direct me to take care of myself, be a good listener. And, a good listener isn't someone who watches my mouth move while waiting for a chance to insert directives. A good listener simply does that--listens, takes in my story.

Rather than command me to take care of myself, assure me that I'm doing enough. Understand that I'm doing a lot while worrying I'm not doing enough. Your compassionate words, "You are doing all the right things," boosts my confidence, which I can't get enough of.

What if, during a tough caregiving time, I heard, "You are taking care of so much. How can I take care of you?"

Wouldn't answering that question be a great way for me to take care of myself?