Care-GIVER or Care-TAKER?

There are folks in this world who need to be needed. There are folks who find fulfillment in giving care to loved ones. There are folks who can give of themselves freely or professionally and take great pride in a caring job well done. Then there is me.

There are many days when I don't really feel like I know myself very well. However, one thing I have always known about myself is the fact that I do NOT need to be needed. As a matter of truth and fact, if I am needed, I get annoyed and will withdraw. Granted, I can always be counted on to do the right thing. I do step up when I need to. But this is not a natural state of being for me.

I knew I could never be a doctor or a nurse. I also knew that I could not handle the everyday tasks of being a mother. I never had the burning desire to have children. I'm a good aunt, and I can share myself with children very well, in temporary spurts of nurture. I never committed to being a parent because I never felt like I could rise to that level of selflessness.

I'm not particularly proud of any of this, but I'm not particularly ashamed of it either. It is just who I am. Even though I don't feel it is a natural state for me, I am no stranger to delivering a plentiful supply of caregiving. Of course, I dole it out on a daily basis to my husband and pets. But the bulk of my caregiving went to my mother. I cared for Mom during a shoulder surgery in 2011 and then more intensely from December, 2015 until she died on March 29, 2019.

I think the point of this post is to say that because of my last bout of intense caregiving, I no longer feel like I have much care left to give to myself, much less my loved ones. I am tapped out. The well is dry. But that doesn't matter. Suck it up, buttercup. I have a dog that is recovering from surgery and a husband who just had hand surgery today. Bailey is on the healthy side of the mend. And Ken tries his best to be self contained, and normally succeeds pretty well. I should not be typing any complaints. Things could be, and have been, much worse.

Living well with good mental health is a challenge for many people. Positivity is truly a mindset. Optimism and hope are many times illusive to me. It is hard to get my mind to focus on anything positive on most days lately. I don't see myself "looking on the bright side of life" much at all anymore. Yes, I'm still grieving since Mom passed. Yes, it is the holiday season which is full of "firsts" that feel like "lasts" (First Thanksgiving since Mom died. First Christmas since Mom died. First New Year since Mom died. etc.). Yes, I feel like my depression is out of whack. Yes, I am participating in grief counseling. Yes, I still put one foot in front of the other. Yes, I am getting shit done. Yes, I will take care of my husband. Yes, I am taking care of my dog. Yes, I am very appreciative that Ken did most of the heavy lifting for Bailey's recovery during the Thanksgiving break. Yes, I need to stop typing.

I am no dictionary. I don't even play one on TV. To me, the two terms, Care-GIVING & Care-TAKING, while technically synonyms, FEEL like two different verbs. Seems to me there is the act of GIVING care and the act of TAKING care. Is there a fair amount of implication that one is on the receiving end of one of those acts? Why the hell are they used interchangeably? Why the hell am I questioning it right now? Maybe the issue is the word CARE. I tell folks to "Take Care!" when I want to be warm in my salutations to a friend. I tell Ken to "Be Careful!" when I know he is driving or riding in a car or some other activity where care should be used. When I drink wine or take medications there is a warning on a label somewhere telling me to "USE care when operating heavy machinery". Hmmmm.....the English language is tricky. Especially when I got up at 4 am to accompany my husband to the surgical center at our arrival time of 6 am. I am supportive. I am CARING. And whether I am TAKING care or GIVING care or USING care, it's all more of a goal than a natural state of being. Or is it?

All this typing has led me to one conclusion. I need a nap.

That is all.

Carry on.

Ken showing me before surgery that he didn't have the energy to flip me off. SOOOO close. Copyright 2019 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

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