Have you ever had an idea you thought was brilliant…and then everyone else shamed you for it? Yeah. Me too. Just happened, in fact.
My bright idea occurred this weekend. “Why,” said I to myself, “should it be only ill people who have GoFundMe’s started for them? Their full-time caregivers are constantly denying themselves. They have needs and wants too! More importantly, their lives are passing them by for lack of funds. They should have GoFundMe’s too.”
Well, I thought it was a brilliant idea. That is, until I posted it in a couple of Caregiver Groups on Facebook.
Far from the comments from my fellow caregivers being “attagirl” and “what a brilliant idea” and “I’m off to start one for myself,” it was universally panned by the very caregivers I was trying to help!
Oh, they had a lot of “reasons” for frowning on it. C. S. Lewis would sum it up as “we always ask for less love, not more.”
- There are people out there who need donations much more than I do.
- You’ll get a lot of nasty comments.
- You’ll have to pay income taxes. (Not usually true, btw.)
- “I give myself a $10/month allowance.”
- I’d never dare.
- What would you put in the description?
There were other comments, but this was my takeaway: Caregivers have a very codependent and “complicated with” relationship with money.
We’re not sick. We don’t deserve anything extra. Blah, blah, blah.
Hold the phone! Hold the frickin’ phone!
For starters, have you seen the GoFundMe’s out there!?! Some are raising funds for throwing parties! Keggers. Vacations. And by people who are in perfect health and gainfully employed, no less!
We caregivers are no less courageous and heroic than a doctor, a nurse, a First Responder. So why are we slinking around corners, denying ourselves and living second-hand, clearance rack lives surreptitiously gnawing on the crumbs that dribble off of the table of the person we care for!?
I don’t think that’s right. I don’t like the mindset these Caregivers are betraying.
After all, we’re always being told to “Take care of yourself too.” I never realized that the second unspoken half of that statement is, “as long as it doesn’t cost any money.”
I don’t think there IS a second half to that statement!
“Take care of yourself.” Full stop. Even if it costs a little something.
But let’s face it: if you’re a full-time caregiver, funds are probably damn tight. Every penny spoken for before the check arrives. And it’s damned hard to make money from home while caregiving. I’ve tried my best but it’s getting harder and harder. Hence the GoFundMe for ourselves idea.
As a full-time caregiver, I know, oh! how I know, that it becomes comfortable to live in the shadows. Denying yourself becomes almost a delightful self-flagellation game like twisting a loose tooth when you’re in first grade. It hurts like billy ho!…but feels so good too!!! (Yes, I shamelessly stole that from C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.)
That’s what it’s like to be a codependent caregiver. Your “patient” may be asking you, encouraging you, begging you to spend a little on something to make yourself a little happier even if you rob Peter (next month’s check) to pay Paul (this month). It’s almost a pleasure to say, “No.”
That’s wrong too. I’ve been guilty of it, many a-time. If my relationship with money had to be detailed by Facebook, the classification would be “it’s complicated with.”
Even before I was a caregiver, heck! Ever before I was married, my relationship with money was complicated. I felt guilty for spending a dime. When I spent anything, even on food, I always felt I had to “sneak” it even though I was earning the paycheck and I had no one to answer to except myself. I reckon it has something to do with being raised in a narcissistic home where, even when I paid rent, I was shamed for the cost of my cooking, my hot water, etc.
In the past, I’ve only started fundraisers for my Michael and you, dear readers, have been more than generous. Thanks to you, Michael’s quality of life has gone up, up, up. Hospital bed. Medical bills up-to-date. A bathtub for hot, pain-relieving soaks. A cabinet bulging with herbs and supplements. You even gave him the gift of color with Enchroma glasses. (Thank you again!)
Now I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Challenging caregivers near and far to be just a teensy-weensy bit “selfish.”
Here’s the challenge: The next time you start a fundraiser for your “patient,” start one for yourself too. That’s right…I dare you! Double dare you!
Put one up for you. Cross-link them. And when people donate, and they will, don’t you dare put that money into the Household Till.
Keep it in a separate account and spend it on you. New clothes. A coat. Maybe a haircut or a much needed massage or spa day. A nice meal out. A concert. Peach bubblebath. An antique you always wanted. I dunno. But you do know what you secretly crave.
This is your life, Caregiver. Oh, I know, I know. You’re fully invested in caring for your loved one, your patient, making sure they live as long as possible and have quality-of-life as long as possible. But aren’t you alive too? Is your life worth less than theirs!?!
We are ninjas! Caregivers are heroes, in my book. We deserve a lot of credit…even if insurance companies and Medicaid don’t recognize us and don’t “validate” us monetarily. Does it really take a paycheck to validate our worth!?!
Of course not.
So how dare you treat yourself worse than you treat your patient!? You want something to be ashamed of? That’s what you should be ashamed of. Neglecting yourself. You. The person your patient loves. You’re treating yourself shabbily. They see it and it makes them sad.
So what are you waiting for!?
Get off your bum, set-up that GoFundMe or Facebook fundraiser and share, share, share. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Your friends and family, even strangers, will be more than happy to donate. Heck! They’ve probably been waiting and wondering how they could pull it off without offending your ridiculous pride. The kind reader who donated to me said, “I’ve been wanting to give back for some time.” That was a wake-up call to me. Well, I’ll be darned!
Look at it this way: You’re denying your loved ones the joy of giving back to you for all you do for the person they also love.
So swallow that pride! Flip codependence the bird. You only have one life and it’s passing you by for lack of funds.
What are you waiting for!?! Get that fundraiser up and going. Like me, you’ll be glad you did.