Autonomy, Initiative, Motivation Gone....Forever??

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who did a long agonizing caretaking job with his mom. He told me that it changed him forever and not in a good way. I got to thinking about that and I realized that for all the surface things I complain about, that are totally valid, the thing I haven’t explored is what this has done to my spirit.


I am a person who, whenever I found myself in a situation that wasn’t to my best interest, I would change it. Whether it was a job, a relationship, or a place I lived.

I always had the autonomy, the initiative, and the motivation for changing my situations. But taking care of mom for eight years has robbed me of all that.

Slowly and subtly, I see it has eroded over the years. I have lost control of the most important areas of my life which comprises about 80%.

I now only have control over the minor 20% of daily decisions that mean nothing. I’m living in a place I don’t want to live, and I’m not living the relationship that I have in my life.

The clincher that makes it depressing is, I have no control over when it’s going to end. All the advice to get respite care, take a day off, take a week off, means nothing.

I want to move forward with my life and I am stuck in a circling pattern over the airport, waiting to
land, and my plane is running out of fuel.

I am bound to this woman until the day she dies and then I will be free. When that happens, where will my spirit be?

Eight years of the last best years of my life for adventure and exploration, spontaneity and fun, have been taken from me. At this point, I just want to crawl into a cave and recuperate.

I don’t feel bitter, angry, or resentful anymore.

I don’t have the energy for that. I just want it to end. I hope that when that happens, my spirit will revive, like water to a dying plant, and I can once again be the motivated person I know myself to be.

But I don’t see that happening. It feels like my spirit has been taken down a notch and this is how I will carry-on in life after this is done. This isn’t meant to be a pity-party and I don’t want advice to get help, get out, quit feeling sorry for yourself, do something.

I’m just expressing my feelings this morning. This is a deep-seated part of caregiving that people don’t understand. It’s not just the things we can see that are taken from us, it’s the things we can’t see.

We can’t change the roads we’ve taken in life, and sometimes we can’t even change the road we’re on, but when I finally come to the next crossroad, I hope my autonomy, initiative, and motivation are waiting there for me.

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airport closed
by: steve

i understand how you feel, most people who care for another do also. it does change you, and although you may hope your life will go back to what we think is our normal, i doubt it will ever be the same. it may well be good again, but i doubt the same good we thought we had before.

i will probably feel a lot of guilt of how i could have done better, been more patient, not feeling so selfish about what i may or may not be missing out on.

I know i will have these thoughts for the rest of my life. i am having them after twenty some years since watching my parents fade away, and i know this experience will be etched in my soul.

i hope that in the end, the only judgement that really counts, the one from our heavenly mother and father will be a reward and not another well sorry, you should have done better when you had the chance. you said your plane is circling the airport low on fuel, i see mine as on vapors, the airport closed and the runway lights have been turned off.

the only light is the twinkle of far off stars, the lights of heaven and no matter what the next day brings, i'll do my best to keep looking up. (it says below, "prove you are human" ...we do that every day when we open our eyes, get out of bed and put our feet on the floor, knowing what the day will bring. we are human, but that's not all we are.)

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So clearly expressed
by: Elly

You are a good writer, very good.
I know your post was not meant to showcase that talent but you certainly have it.

I agree with every word. I am finishing my 5th year of caring for a mother who, for the sake of brevity, I will just say was not a nurturer. So when people say "they took of us when we were kids so now it's our turn" I think it must be nice to have had a mother like that.

I am caring for the person who has been the cruelest to me of anyone I have ever known.
I believe most of us do not wish our parent to die.

We just recognize that our best years are slipping away and we want to live; we want our freedom. And yet the choice comes down to this--either we give up the 80% you mentioned or the elderly parent gives up even more than age has already taken from them.

One of the saddest parts of all this is that this wouldn't be as overwhelmingly depressing if our siblings did their part.
I used to think my brother and I were close; now I can't stand him.

I am sorry you are in this position. I wish I could help you. I am praying for you tonight.

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well said!
by: Anonymous

You've really hit the nail on the head. I feel the same way. I started the "caregiving journey" over 10 years ago when my mom needed help with my dad.

Oh, she had the means to have other people help her (LTC insurance) but she just didn't trust anyone. I had made the promise that I wouldn't abandon my parents when they got old. My brother and sister did just that over 20 years ago. I'm the last one around.

Dad died in 2013 and mom has literally sucked the life out of me. Thankfully I have a very sweet and caring husband who's stayed by me for the past 35 years (some days I don't understand why) but I too am just waiting for the eventuality and wondering if I'll recover enough emotionally to enjoy what life I have left.

And to top it all off I've had several major accidents in the past two years that have impacted my mobility severely that now make things even more difficult for me. Same here though - not trying to have a pity party - just venting.

Hang in there and think positive as best you can. I'm told we will miss our moms when they're gone....

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