Caring for the most vulnerable in society can actually result in you becoming very vulnerable as well. The sacrifices a carer makes physically, emotionally, financially, socially, and in so many other ways, is not fully understood – nor respected – by the majority of society and especially not by most governments. Those sacrifices we make in order to care for our loved ones who cannot care for themselves comes at a very high price on all of those levels. It is a price, which left too long without proper assistance, can easily become no longer sustainable.
Recently, I became even more vulnerable as my hand was forced and I had to reach out and ask for assistance in a way I have never had to do before on this journey with my son. It required me to humble myself, though to be quite honest, I felt more humiliated than humbled because I despise asking for help. Either way, it also left me reminiscing how life used to be for me, years ago…
Once upon a time, things were so very different.
Once upon a time, I was a professional. I even had my own business cards complete with my degrees after my name and the job title below my name. Now, I’m lucky if I remember my own phone number or what day it is.
Once upon a time, I worked my way through college, and then years later worked full time while I put myself through graduate school. Driven and fiercely independent, I devoted myself to reaching my educational and professional dreams. Now, I’m lucky if I reach the goal of sorting out all of my son’s medications and putting them on the shelves where they rightly should be.
Once upon a time, I used to ride my bike to and from college, and on the weekends I would go hiking for hours on end. I was fit, strong, without a physical care in the world. Now, I am overweight, too often struggling with depression and anxiety, and live daily with chronic pain from arthritis (rheumatoid and osteo), degenerative disc disease, and a fairly severe bunion that will require surgery for the pain to finally end.
Once upon a time, I owned a house that I adored. I had planted 2 trees in the back garden, one for Brendan Bjorn and one for Declan. There was even a concrete ramp leading up to the door for Brendan. I felt secure, content, and established in a home of my own. Now, the home is long gone, lost to foreclosure and bankruptcy, along with the career, along with those 2 trees which by now are probably so lovely and big. Now, I rent a drafty house that needs repair, with no lease and no security, and I wonder will I ever know that security of having my own home again.
Once upon a time, I felt like I was making a difference in the world, working as a counselor with children every day to make their troubles a bit less and their understanding of life a bit deeper. Now, often trapped in my home for days on end caring for my precious, fragile son, I frequently wonder if I make a difference for anyone but him.
And once upon a time, I had a deep, unmet dream of being a mother, knowing only the terrible heartache of numerous miscarriages and near surrender of that most powerful of dreams. Now, I live my life for not just one, but two, amazing sons who give me purpose, inspiration, motivation, a reason to live, and who hold my heart with the greatest of loves.
Yes, once upon a time, things were so very different.