I have always been a caretaker.
Even before my marriage, all the way back into my childhood, I was taught to care for others first.
There have been numerous times in my life that I have thrown everything to the side to run head-on into another person’s crisis in order to help them get through it.
I always loved being needed… loved stepping in and saving the day… loved the rewards I reaped by seeming so “competent and together.”
But, over time I became tired, worn out. My own world neglected while I worked, usually to the point of exhaustion, helping someone else overcome their own chaos.
The “super hero” in me wanted to be there for everyone but often, by stepping in, I was teaching others to look to me for help first… before learning to come up with their own solutions to their problems or crisis.
I realized I was doing a disservice to my friends and family… impeding their own spiritual growth… each time I just “handled things.”
There is nothing wrong with being there for the people you love and helping them through troubled times: It is an admirable quality to be an anchor for someone during a storm.
But, when I use my care-taking to people please, distract myself from my own needs, work, or problems… or to save others from consequences of actions or learning how to manage their own lives… then I need to look at my behavior and change it.
Today, if it is a “true” crisis and I am called upon by a friend or family member to assist in the problem… I am present in their moment of pain and I wait for their direction to proceed.
I offer support when called upon instead of stepping in and doing what I believe is best for all involved.
“Dear God, help me to be present for friends and family during a crisis. Help me to be supportive while allowing them the right to navigate their own path. Help me to share my experience, strength, hope, and direction only when they ask for my guidance.”
I’ve found myself in this place at times- either “handling” things or thinking I could “fix” someone or a situation. I tried doing that too much during my marriage and eventually it did more harm than good – it was appreciated and almost expected after awhile, but the overall outcome: it just wore my out completely.
I have always remembered there is a difference between care taking and care giving 🙂
So true, Adrienne! 🙂
It’s a year later – another perspective on care taking – it wasn’t about taking care of day to day stuff – I had been in denial of the degree to which my ex was a “poly” addict. Thought I could change that or help. yipes
Result was being an enabler and damaged myself in the process.
He was lost to me /our marriage awhile ago.
And as damaged as I was when we separated , and it didn’t really register with me until very recently … I remember saying – I’ve lost you … To (the addictions)
My life changed
His has gone further down that path
There are days when I have compassion – want to “handle” it
Other days I still have moments of anger – “you hurt me and us”- and I believe he deserves his plight .
Saving grace is that I’m in a great place and moving on – thank goodness
I’m so glad you are in a great place Patricia. Pray for him to “be at ease” and let him walk his path. It’s the universe’s way of allowing you to see things “outside” of the relationship and be grateful for where you are at today! 🙂 D.
Thank you , DD
You’re right 🙂
It’s always great to come back to this post. I agree – caretaking vs caregiving. I look back now and what was happening as much as anything was my “taking care” of us in terms of economics, long term plans, and day to day responsibilities. When it turns into a predominantly one-way street, and your partner won’t/can’t participate, you come up with that undercurrent of resentment and worry. My enabling was my nature, and it was damaging. Learned so much! Like hopefully not repeating it! 🙂
Patricia what I found funny (and what might happen with you as well) is that I started care-taking other “strays” in his place. The good thing? I caught it right away and changed the behavior! 🙂 D.