Caregiver Confessions: When You Resent Being a Caregiver
Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there
Why wouldn't a caregiver feel resentful sometimes? After all, it's not a role most of us choose gladly. And it turns most lives upside down. Even for good-humored, willing caregivers, some days are so hard that it's not unusual for resentment to creep in: toward the situation, the disease at hand, or even your loved one.
"This isn't anyone's happily ever after," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, who founded Leeza's Place communities for caregivers after her mother developed Alzheimer's disease.
More tips on coping with this tough emotion:
Don't feel guilty for having this feeling. Almost all caregivers experience resentment, because it's a very human emotion. Cut yourself some slack.
Let go a little of the past and the future. Of course you're mourning the person as he or she once was, and the life you had together. But dwelling on that fact tends to feed resentment. Instead, try to borrow from mindfulness practice: Focus on the here and now, and on what's good and worth cherishing about the person in front of you.
Remind yourself that, above all, it's the situation you're resentful of. It's rarely the person in your care who's causing your feelings; what you're upset about is almost always the disease, the burden of caregiving, and the changes to all your lives.
Have safe places to vent. It really helps to be able to identify the feelings underlying the resentment. Write in a journal (even if you just burn the pages afterward, this helps). Call a friend. Talk to your dog. Simply addressing the frustrations helps to release them.