Care giving pushes a person toward their outer limits. The repetition of unpleasant tasks and the human desire to receive as much or more than we give can make the caregiver sad, surly, stressed out or all of the above.
Throw in some of life’s normal irritations and it’s time for black confetti, diabolical tunes and spoiled snacks – a pity party.
A wise friend once advised me to get ahead of the onslaught by asking myself, “If I were the devil, what would I do to upset Tim?” This week, it’s been an overload of all the life crud I’d rather not deal with;
- Bureaucracy – got a call from the pharmacy that insurance was declining to refill our son’s array of medications, which include anti-seizure and anti-aggression chill pills. So I had to dig through piles of forms that all look alike, call automated “customer service” numbers, hack my way to a live person who wouldn’t talk to me because of HIPPA (he, they’re my son’s meds, not mine), etc. Hate doing this on my best day. Got it fixed but it left me frazzled.
- Money – I get to pay bills AND do taxes on my upcoming days off. WooHOOO! Yay, Me!!!!!
- Conflict – part of my work has me representing my superiors to two dug in groups that refuse to resolve a conflict and keep trying to manipulate me to to choose between them. My superiors simply want them to make up or get lost. I don’t like delivering bad news; I’m a decent care giver because I’m flexible and it is not easy for me to be bossy; I like peace and hate being around people who’ve lost their rationality. Today I get to call the two faction leaders and tell them, “You’ve exhausted the patience of my superiors. You’re both gone.” Even more delicious was the whole night anticipating these calls.
Pity parties make us passive and hapless. The make us throw up our hands in woe and just let circumstances continue to crush us. What to do?
- Stop bundling the problems as one big mess. Mentally separate them. Take them one at a time. They are not related. They are not God’s wrath coming upon you. And they will go away the sooner you stop pity partying and take them on one by one. Don’t look at them all at once or the whole universe will look like your problem. Give each one its time and place, curse it if you must, and then get down to dealing with it.
- Delegate. Can someone else help? I just realized that someone else is going to see the feuding hard heads face to face before I do. So, I will still make the bad news phone calls, but my colleague can deliver the formal letter from our superiors. One less bit of stress and wasted time. Don’t play the hero; accept offers of help or better yet, stop waiting for an offer and ask for it.
- Practice spirituality. Stuff that’s hard can be turned to your advantage. As a follower of Jesus, I’m aware of the words In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35). Yes, care giving is about giving more than you get back. In our animal flesh, that’s a big negative, but in the mystery of the Spirit it’s a way to find blessing, that is, deep and abiding happiness. So wrestle with the invisible possibilities instead of just slogging through the pathetic feelings.
- Take your times of rest and recovery. Sometimes this means just turning away from the problems when you’ve done what you can do. Other times it means to celebrate because you’ve knocked something off the list. Rewarding yourself for a victory will help you go out and win other battles.
I’m sure there’s more stuff to list but you know what? I’m tired of thinking about it and I’m going to drink coffee and get those stupid phone calls out of the way.
Hope your weekend is good. If you have a pity party planned, cancel it.