I'm doing a journaling workshop for caregivers and this week's assignment is to write about ourselves. This is what I wrote (with prompts in red):
Write about who you've become.
I’ve become several things I never thought I would be. I’ve become an administrator on a small scale, running a program at work that I deeply believe in and that has a significant impact (every student in the university has to take a course in our area). I’ve become an athlete. And now I’m becoming a caregiver.
Write about who you used to be.
As a child I tried so hard to be good. I was sexually abused by my mother and grandmother but I hid the pain all too well. School was my safe place. My junior year of high school I got excited about learning and carried that through college and graduate school. In college I discovered feminism, which gave me a way of accepting myself as a woman, but I didn’t expect that I would marry. Feminism even led to my first interest in religion (having been raised in a culturally Christian but atheist family). I was baptized when I was 27 and joined first the United Church of Christ (I’m now an Episcopalian).
I was 31 when John and I married and he was 41—a first marriage for both of us. We understood marriage to be an equal partnership. Our first child was born three years later. After our daughter was born not quite three years later we had a tough couple of years; first our son had kidney infections because of a problem that was corrected eventually by bladder surgery, then he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and language issues (we just barely escaped an autism diagnosis), then he had eye muscle surgery. He’s now doing well going into his senior year of high school but I do worry about finding the right college.
I did a lot of work from about 1995 to 2005 on my own inner healing with the help of a wonderful patient therapist. I learned very much to trust my own journey. John was very supportive, though a lot of responsibility always fell on me because I was a better organizer than he was even as I took myself apart and put myself back together.
Write about what is and/or is not working in your life today.
Today I am confused. John is in the very early stages and friends say they don’t see him as having changed, except that he moves more slowly. Yet I have had to take over most things that are complex, such as financial planning. He did take our son to visit colleges for two days this week, and they report that the trip went well. He made those arrangements himself three weeks ago, but it took him all week. He was too busy with that all week to fill out a form related to retirement or send a package he said he would send or go to exercise class or physical therapy.
Mostly I do almost all the family organizing, while he can still take care of himself. But even doing all the organizing feels overwhelming. It is hard to decide how much taking care of John needs. I go to all doctor’s appointments with him, and I remind him of things. I straightened out his medications in May and the prescriptions are messed up again; I may need to take that over soon. I feel like he isn’t my partner any more, and I feel guilty about my coldness.
I hate most how unpredictable everything is. I don’t know how to put the pieces together.