I said I’d keep today’s Sophbox brief…. Oh well. Epic fail.
The worst human emotion to feel, in my opinion, is guilt. I seem to hold that emotion for all its worth. It’s a self-destructive feeling, which does you no favours whatsoever. It’s such a negative, energy zapping and counterproductive emotion.
I’ve mentioned the worst guilt I’ve ever felt, in a previous blog. I’m not repeating myself with that. Right now, I feel so guilty that I’m not working. Like a lot of people, I will power through any health problem, trying to ignore it, in the hope it will go away. The only time I will ever admit defeat to illness is when my asthma takes a bad turn, and dodgy breathing patterns force me to look after myself. Being signed off from work “with stress” is a new one on me. My GP told me that it’s impossible to keep things going, when you’re suffering a major trauma in life. I miss my team and I miss the kids at school, but I know I’m no use to anyone whilst riding these huge emotions.
What is stress? I would say that when you begin a new chapter, trying to cope with your parents in their difficult time of life, ‘stress’ just doesn’t cut it. I feel so many emotions right now. The most significant being grief. I feel very much that I’m grieving for my familiar parents, my familiar role as their daughter. The impact of becoming the protector overnight is immense. You become the protector, but your familiar was the protected. I’m suddenly aware of the protection and unconditional love my parents have always provided my entire life. Not that I needed reminding. I’m so grateful for this.
Although my Mum is very much in denial of her dementia, I’ve slowly come to terms with it over the last two years. The impact of my Dad’s stroke and subsequent deterioration, has left me very much in denial of his situation. I’ve never had a time in my life where both parents were vulnerable. This is so new and so raw. 33 years ago, my Dad suffered a breakdown, which lead him to take early retirement from teaching. 27 years of teaching included being Deputy Head, then finally a Headship. I’ve always been so proud of my Dad. I was 11 when he had his breakdown and it was horrible to see a mentally strong man, vulnerable and broken. My Mum was so determined during this time. Determined to keep everything going, keep her daughters happy, she was so strong. She has always been determined. As an 11 year old, I hated seeing my Dad so different to how he had normally been. I have never seen my Dad unwell since that time. Until now.
Anyone else reading this and identifying with it, will appreciate just the impact it has. My parents define me. I feel my identity has taken a hit, as my parents are not who they were. I feel I’m now getting to know a whole new Soph. The old Soph, the familiar, was the joker, quietly confident that her parents always had her back. Now, I’m getting to know this new Soph, who is fiercely wanting to protect her parents in their vulnerable chapter of life.
I feel guilty for feeling sad. I’m aware that not all parents reach their late 70’s, I should be grateful mine have. I’m aware that people lose loved ones who haven’t had the luxury of years. Again, I feel guilty for this sadness I feel. My brother was not given the chance to bloom, at 3 years old, sarcoma stole his life. I feel guilty that I’m very much in a grieving process I can’t fight. Guilt causes such inner turmoil. I fuckin hate it. However, it’s real, all the same.
Making calls today and using that word, ‘help’, was difficult, but also empowering. Within a day, I’m already part of a peer group programme, and the moment the lady took my details, I immediately felt I was not alone.
I urge anybody else going through a similar journey, to contact the Devon Carers Support team. I literally felt all the weight I was carrying was carefully lifted from me. During these 11 weeks, the stubborn Aries in me has done what I’m always guilty of doing…. bulldozing through problems, refusing any help along the way. Today was a big deal for me, as I just don’t find it easy to admit I’m struggling. I am.
I want my blog to empower others. I don’t want it to drag others down. I don’t want sympathy. I just want it to be my voice. Unfortunately, none of us know when our roles in our family will be reversed, but what’s important is that we talk about it. People hide behind their front they put up. I’ve always done that. It’s not healthy to cover up emotions. The minute you say that life is slightly testing, other people will have an experience to share, and empathy is created. We’re not robots, we feel, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of showing our emotions xxxxxx