I receive emails from family caregivers every day. I have read so many emails, comments and Facebook posts, and listened to so many voicemails that I now know how the story is going to go before I ever get to the end.
Usually it ends with a burned-out caregiver. Somewhere in the middle is family strife and financial troubles along with isolation. Occasionally there is hoarding, abuse, or stubbornness. Frequently, the caregiver has medical issues of their own.
I bet you could pick out your story somewhere in there. I can see my own story in there somewhere. Most caregivers can.
I got into this rut of lumping caregivers into one big umbrella until a friend of mine reminded me that even though all leopards have spots, they all have different spots.
It was a reminder to step back and turn off my autopilot, to stop pretending I was The Great Carnac.
We may have similar stories as caregivers, but our story is always our own. No one has the same memories, the same sorrows, the same frustrations or challenges. No one has your history, or your relationships. No one has your same story. They may be similar, but they are not the same.
The uniqueness of our stories is powerful and should be celebrated, but it should never make us feel alone.
No caregiver should ever feel alone or misunderstood. But to make that possible, we have to share our stories and celebrate.
We should all celebrate our unique journey. We should celebrate the fact that we have been chosen (or some of us drafted) to be a caregiver for someone we love. We should celebrate each time we make it through another day, cross something off our growing to-do list, finally get Mom to bathe without an incident, or just make it through a cup of coffee without interruption.
We should tell the world about our achievements, no matter how small we think they are. We should share our stories so we can empower other caregivers and breakdown the isolating walls that come with this title.
We should celebrate our unique spots, but continue to find comfort in our herd of other caregivers.
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