The Life of a Caretaker / Book of Awakening

Each morning I make an effort to spend some time in prayer and mediation.  There are a number of books I pull from to get my day started, each speaking to a part of me.  Jesus Calling, Bible in A Year, Daily Gratitude and Book of Awakening, just to name a few.  This morning I was brought to tears by my reading from the Book of Awakening.  I would like to share it with you.

“Accept this gift, so I can see myself as giving.”

I have been learning that the life of a caretaker is as addictive as the life of an alcoholic.  Here the intoxication is the emotional relief that temporarily comes when answering a loved one’s need.  Though it never lasts, in the moment of answering someone’s need, we feel loved.  While much good can come from this, especially for those the caretaker attends, the care itself becomes a drink by which we briefly numb a worthlessness that won’t go away unless constantly doused by another shot of self-sacrifice.

It all tightens until what others need is anticipated beyond what is real, and then, without any true need being voiced, an anxiety to respond builds that can only be relieved if something is offered or done.  At the heart of this is the ever-present worry that unless doing something for another there is no possibility of being loved.  So the needs of others stand within reach like bottles behind a bar that, try as he or she will, the caretaker cannot resist.

In truth, caretaking, though seeming quite generous, is very self-serving, and it’s urgent self-centeredness prevents a life of genuine compassion.  In all honesty, to heal from this requires as rigorous a program of recovery as alcoholics enlist, including sponsors who will love us for who we are.

Within one’s self, the remedy of spirit that allows for true giving resides somewhere in the faith to believe that each of us is worthy of love, just as we are.

For me, I have experienced this with my daughter.  I go to great lengths to help her even when she does not ask for it or want it.  I can see, in hindsight, that I have forced my choices and my will on her and have only hurt her and made a bad situation worse in my efforts to show I care.  Maybe caring means doing nothing.  Maybe caring sometimes allowing our loved ones to fall down and pick themselves back up.  I know I will be going back to Al-Anon meeting next week and sharing this new “nugget of honestly” with the group.

Many times I have heard that we are a reflection of our addict.  I have rejected this until today.  I have had another epiphany on my own road to recovery!

I pray this reading may help someone like me today.

Here are some things to do suggested by the author, Mark Nepo:

 Center yourself and bring to mind a loved one you seem to meet more than halfway.

Meditate on what makes you take the extra step.

Imagine them loving you if you did nothing.

Imagine loving yourself if you did nothing.

Breathe and do nothing until you feel a sense of love rising for yourself.



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