Tuesday’s post was a celebration of our autistic son’s ability to stay calm and positive in the face of an unexpected and unpleasant change.
But yesterday morning he got angry for no apparent reason. We were doing the morning hand off, with Tim getting ready to leave for work and Melissa sitting with Joey to wait for his paratransit ride. It’s normally one of Joey’s happy times. Dad goes off to work and Joey gets some warm time with Mom.
All of a sudden, Joey began throwing our pleasant farewell words back at us in a deep, malevolent voice. He tensed up and resisted getting into his jacket. And Mom & Dad went from morning calm to stomachs in knots.
The reality of care giving is frequent emotional agitation and drain.
As one friend describes it,
“It’s like you’ve got this little bit of water down at the bottom of your well and they’re down there putting in a drain.”
A wife who is care giver to her husband writes that he “
Here’s one caregiver’s Facebook status, “
And here’s another, “
The physical and financial demands of care giving aren’t always the biggest strain. Many of us have to guard against serving as the emotional punching bags for those in our care. It’s a tricky business, because they are people coping with pain and challenges they can’t fix. They’re people we love and we can’t just turn that off – and even if we could, who wants to live in an emotionally frozen home?
We have to find that elusive in-between place to stand; loving enough to be vulnerable, but not so vulnerable as to be emotionally beaten to a pulp.