A caller to my radio show once asked, “How can I communicate to my loved one that I can’t handle it anymore—that it’s coming off the rails?”

My reply was, “The person who needs to hear it’s coming off the rails is not your loved one . . . it’s you—and preferably in the presence of a counselor.”

We can’t take for granted that the one we care for can understand our frustration. My brother has a twenty-seven year-old daughter born with cerebral palsy and severe cognitive impairments. Taking care of her is like caring for a giant baby. Kelsey cannot process what my brother and sister-in-law go through. She just lives her life.

Chronic pain and disease have a way of block­ing the field of view for folks, and all they can see is their own need. Some days, quite bluntly, they’re just having a bad day and, even if they could, they won’t process the feelings of their caregivers.

Developmental issues, narcotics, alcohol, or a variety of other impairments may prevent an empathy towards your circumstances.

Reacting to their behavior will only heap more frustra­tion, rage, and ultimately guilt upon us as caregivers. Embarrassingly, I have to admit it took me way too many of my 30 years as a caregiver to figure out how to sidestep so many of the flashpoints—and regardless of how an impaired loved one behaves, I never get a “free pass to be an ass.” It finally sunk in that I can detach from those feelings and behavior.

Sometimes, abusive behavior is involved and then professionals (physicians, coun­selors, and even law enforcement) may need to be contacted.

If, however, it’s just poor behavior, I try to remember that some level of impairment or personality issue is usually driving that behavior.

I try to remember what a friend once told me, “They’re not doing it to you —they’re just doing it.”

I’m learning I can still see past all of that and minister to the heart, and I don’t have to go to every fight that I get a ticket to—I can sit a few of them out and save myself some drama. (I’ve also learned that principle applies outside of caregiving scenarios!)

When cleaning up a mess or dressing a wound, I’d rather weep than grind my teeth. (I’ve done both!)

I find it helps me when I think about how Christ willingly endured the cross on my behalf.

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From HOPE FOR THE CAREGIVER ©2015 Worthy Inspired


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