“It’s not the load that weighs you down, but the way you carry it.”
This quote was attributed to Lena Horne last night during an Academy Awards tribute. I’m not sure she said it first, but she must have said it at one time.
A few hours earlier a friend asked me a question: “What it is about caring for your mom that makes you feel so tired? What is the story you are telling yourself? What is the wiring in you that makes you tired,” he asked. “What is the belief you have? What is the internal conversation?”
“It shouldn’t be this hard,” he added. “What is it that you feel trapped by?”
He asked these questions after he said this:
“Having the responsibility for someone else’s life that has been unpredictable for 20 years…Someone who has been in your psychic space and your family space. And with a requirement of the family that you cater to the needs and whims of that person…is a huge undertaking and incredibly draining. You’ve been doing it for a generation. People have been born and grew to adulthood in the time you’ve been taking care of your mother.”
I wanted to say, so, which is it? Either it’s incredibly draining or it isn’t. But I understand what he’s saying.
Is there a way I’m carrying this load that is exhausting me. If I could carry the load in a different way, would I find more joy and meaning.
“You could go every day and have a joyful awareness that you are taking care of your mother and that she has highest quality life possible in her last year [or five],” he said.
“You could get it every day what a cool contribution you are making. You have things to write…maybe to teach others and help them with they are going through. Maybe there is an organization to create.”
I told him I do feel satisfaction and sometimes joy in caring for mom. I am grateful for the experience. I’m glad I’ve been able to help her maintain a quality of life. I take pride in being a good and caring advocate. I find fodder for my writing and satisfaction in sharing my experience. I sense that my writing may assist others who are on a similar path–or about to enter the path.
But why am I so tired?
My friend suggested that I observe my thoughts for a couple of weeks to see what the story might be.
I wanted to say, “No, it makes me too tired.”
There are also other possibilities. Chronic pain in my foot. Not being able to hike and walk, two of my favorite things to do. A long cold winter. Unrealistic expectations of myself and from others that I shouldn’t feel tired, or complain, or have a problem with it. Or, guilt that if I were more enlightened, I would just smile like some of those people I know who walk around with beatific smiles and make me want to slap them silly.
Maybe I’m carrying a load that I’m not even expected to carry? Have I been carrying more than my share, or taking on responsibilities that are not mine to carry? Is it as easy as simply shifting the load. But to where?
Answers might include shifting the load to God…you know that poem about the footprints in the sand. There have been many moments of intervention into the affairs of mom that I can point to as a higher power carrying the load. However….
I will be obedient to my friend’s suggestion and observe the story. After all, I might learn something. And isn’t that the point?
He also added that there’s really nothing to change. It’s simply in the noticing that things change.