What I've been gradually working through the last few weeks is that I need to learn a new way of validating myself. I am someone who has been able to validate myself by achievement, by what I can contribute to the public world (on a small scale). But caregiving is like housework--you wash the dishes and they just need washing again the next day, it doesn't accomplish something in the same way as writing a book. I'm sure there will be parts of my life in which I will still accomplish things, but to grow into the caregiving role that I am beginning to play, I need to give up depending on validating myself by achievement.
Some caregivers validate themselves by feeling that self-sacrifice is an honorable path, but I am too much of a feminist to want to go there. Instead, I'm wondering if I can learn to validate myself not by accomplishing something predictable and concrete, but by the fruits of my actions. In the religious circles I run in, people talk about how we can only know if we are doing God's will by the fruits of our actions. If unexpected good things grow out of what we do, then we are following God's path. It involves giving up trying to be in control, but looking for the good that can come out of difficult situations.