When Caring for Others Leaves You Empty and Exhausted
It’s hard putting yourself out there for a life of public service. You’re in service to others and for others. It’s hard and exhausting to go to work when you know your cup is empty and you literally have nothing to offer others than a warm body, a compassionate ear, and an exhausted soul. But, you show up. You do this for more days than not. You begin to feel a bit of confidence, a bit of pride, and a bit of accomplishment.
You celebrate and take a step back and realize the work you’ve done to get where you are. You’re like a master craftsman who’s just finished his or her work of art and you smile the smile of a proud parent. You beat another day while feeling empty.
Then it happens.
It hits you like an unexpected wave to the face.
Burnout. Exhaustion. Stress. They all come and visit like the in-laws who show up unannounced and take over.
Your body catches up to your passion and you’re left with a puddle where a person once stood.
I’m there right now. I’m burned out, I’m exhausted, and to be quite frank–I’m tired.
My mom has been having episodes again. I appreciate her courage for giving in and going to the hospital. We should all be so brave if that time comes and we cannot make decisions for ourselves. I view the hospital as a very safe place and would go back willingly if I ever needed the respite and time for self-examination.
Mom’s symptoms are dementia-like. I’m not going to go into details as to respect her privacy, but it’s hard. I’m her only child. I am trying to work and start my life over, but her health has drastically declined in the last two years.
She has trouble breathing, walking, and living any semblance of a normal life.
It breaks my heart to see her decline. It breaks my heart when she grabs my hand and says things like “you can’t fix me.” It also breaks my heart because she’s started sharing wisdom with me–true wisdom.
The things that make me think and move my soul. She’s not done this since I was a child and it scares me because my grandma started doing the same thing near the end of her life.
Mom is only 58, but she has the body of a 70 something-year-old. She’d admit that years of partying, good times, and living in excess has left her penny-less, depressed, and feeling alone. But she’d also tell you that she could not be happier with having me living with her.
I write this jumbled post today because sometimes it’s how my life is–jumbled, and we all have to deal with the shittiest parts of life that ruin plans, take away our hopes, and crush our dreams.
Life isn’t fair.
It has two rules: you live and you die. One is a choice and the other is a guarantee.
For most of my adult life, I’ve stood by my mom, came running at every phone call, text, or notification. I’ve put her in the hospital (multiple times, picked her up from jail, and been by her side at some of her hardest times).
I could always fix it and now–I can’t.
“You can’t fix me.”
I can’t get these words out of my head. I keep hearing her saying them with tear-filled eyes.
When I think of these words, I get angry, but I’m not really angry, I’m terrified. I’m scared. Men don’t often cry, normally we get very angry.
This week, I cried and I cried hard. I fell the floor and wept. I prayed to God and just held myself. I know that it won’t get better. I have a glimmer of hope in my heart that I cannot abandon, but the skeptical part of me is screaming “she’s on borrowed time”.
The bipolar mind at its best–dual realities claiming to be the truth while both jockey for position in your mind.
I’m reminded of what a former sponsor in recovery told me, “It’s OK to not be OK but it’s NOT OK to stay that way.”
I think he’s right.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I need to put more action into taking care of myself. We are all human and we can only go for so long until we cannot go any further.
I need to fill my cup, and if you’re still reading this–I hope you will, too.
What fills your cup when you’re feeling drained, empty, and less than your best self?
For me, filling my cup means taking care of my body with exercise and good food choices (which I haven’t been) and finding those things that energize my soul (reading, writing, exercise and enjoying nature with a camera).
How about you? What fills you up when life takes everything you have and then some?
, . (2017). When Caring for Others Leaves You Empty and Exhausted. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/desk-couch/2017/08/when-caring-for-others-leaves-you-empty-and-exhausted/