I’ve had a rough few months dealing with grief and emotions and the difficulties of life. But I’ve had some revelations during the last few weeks that have begun to lead to some positive outcomes. And life is looking brighter.
I’ve been learning about caregiver guilt. It seems that when one has been a caregiver for a long time, one begins to feel responsible for the success and failure of the patient. Add in surrendered slave, and it becomes one big ugly emotional mess. I’ve been practicing the art of letting go. I’ve been working through guilt and I’m finding relief on the other side of it.
A caregiver has to be ever-diligent to make sure the patient is receiving all they need for recovery. When you’ve dealt with a patient who has almost died more than once (who technically did die more than once), that diligence takes on a whole new life. You wake during the night to make sure your patient is still breathing. You set alarms and other reminders for meds and appointments, and then rush around to make sure it’s all done when it’s supposed to be. You memorize meds and dosing so that you can remember to tell each new doctor or pharmacist to avoid problems. You learn each doctor’s personality and reactions so that you can handle them in the way the patient needs. You observe closely each day to note changes and to make sure progress continues forward. Life becomes centered around caregiving. Everything else gets put on the back burner unless it is vital to living.
For almost 3 months now I’ve not been a caregiver, after a year and a half of 24/7 caregiving. I’ve not been a slave either, but that’s sort of secondary to the caregiving right now.
At first, I had a massive amount of free time that I didn’t know what to do with. I had forgotten what interested me, and so I floundered – actually, I’m still floundering a bit. I came home from work and sat on my bed, really just doing nothing. I kept thinking about how much time I was wasting, just sitting here doing nothing. I should probably get up and clean the floors or dust the furniture or cook dinner. Then I began to feel guilt about that. I stopped eating dinner at home, in fact, most nights I don’t eat dinner at all. I only really leave my bedroom for work or to sit on the porch. Wednesday rolls around and I consider going to coffee, then I decide, nah, I’m happy here in my bedroom. I’ve gone out a few times, but really I mostly just stay home, in my room, on the computer or reading. I still haven’t fully figured out what I want to do with all that extra time, but I’m slowly finding things to fill some of it.
Tomorrow night, I get to witness two friends celebrate their relationship. Saturday, I’m meeting bratgirl in Sedona after she’s off work for lunch and to wander the shops of Uptown. Monday night, I’ll be at APEX for a celebration of Sir John’s life. Next weekend, I’ll head to the beach by myself for a couple of days of communing with the ocean. The next week, I’ll get together with an amazing group of women I love and am blessed to call my friends. I might go to coffee next week. I might seek a play partner, or at least schedule a play date with a friend. Then I’ll spend the weekend in Tucson for BCD (my first time). Later in October, I’ll be in the White Mountains to see my new grandson born. In November, I’ll see my family for Thanksgiving. In December I’m going to teach a Monday night class at APEX and see my family for Christmas. In January, I’ll be at SWLC and in February, I’ll be at SITC. In June, I’ll be at Desire (my first time).
It’s actually a little overwhelming to realize that my baby will be 20 in about 5 weeks, and I’m no longer financially responsible for anyone but myself. I’m still young enough to learn a new trade and begin a new career. I can go anywhere and do anything I want. If only I knew what that was.
For a couple years now I’ve said that should my relationship end, I don’t think I’d ever be a slave to anyone again. I’ve been rethinking that a little bit and am feeling the pull. I’m learning to not use the words ‘always’, ‘never’, and ‘forever’, because the Universe has a mind of its own. I’m using affirmations and intention-setting to discover what I want and who I want to be. I’m manifesting a new life even as I type these words.
Finding hope in the midst of grief, whether that grief is for death or the loss of a relationship, isn’t easy. There have been many days that I’ve wondered if I should just give in to my introverted tendencies and find a small place off the beaten path to hibernate. There have been many days when I’ve thought I’ll just leave the local scene, give up my memberships in groups and clubs, leave BDSM behind and just become an old cat lady. But then I remind myself that I only like having one cat at a time, and I’m done with kittens. Plus if I did that, I might begin talking to myself in the supermarket checkout line instead of just in the shower and the car.
The reality is that I want to live a life that is full. I want to continue to find things to be grateful for each and every day. I want to bask in the warmth of the sunshine and relax in the glow of the moonlight. I want to wake each day knowing that I have something to live for, things to do that bring me joy, people to love, and places to enjoy. I want to spoil my grandbabies and watch my daughters create beautiful lives of their own. Maybe there will be romantic love and maybe there won’t. But there will be love, the love of friendships and family, both chosen and blood. There will be celebrations. There will be joy.
Life moves on.