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"It is possible to give without loving but it is impossible to love without giving"
When I was a caregiver to my father, both of my parents could not comprehend how I could be so sensitive, nurturing, compassionate and most of all loving during the difficult times we all faced.
Both my father and mother wanted to know more.
My answer was because I truly loved them. They responded by saying, but we weren't always good parents to you. We weren't able to express ourselves and love you the way you do us. How can you be so loving?
I told them that I had worked through most of my emotional dysfunctions which arose from my upbringing and society's conditioning. I also explained that at time it was torture to have to relive old patterns, ie.,; their treating me like a little girl, having my own mixed feelings whelm up when I least expected with hurt, resentment, anger, and the feelings of love which were missing a good part of my life when I was growing up. At times I would be in such a loving space and the next moment I was experiencing hurt, that, they had not shown their love for me more, etc. etc.
They were actually dumbfounded at my response. I mustered up enough courage to explore this communication a little further. I asked didn't you both care for your parents because you loved them.
To my astonishment, both of them replied no. They cared for their parents out of an obligation, a responsibility and even out of guilt with a little love mixed in.
They in turn said it was so difficult to accept my love under the extenuating circumstances because their experiences had left such a deep emotional impact within them.
Thus began a whole new opening to love for my parents. We all healed on deeper levels.
Most of us are hit smack between the eyes with the role of caregiving a loved one; whether it be adult children caring for their parent, a parent with a new born child or even a spouse. It hits us like a ton of bricks.....
So, the exercise is to find a quiet space for a minimum of 15-20 minutes and just quiet your mind of all the worries, the doubts, the confusion, and the mixed feelings you might be experiencing.
If you have children make sure they are asleep or in school. Take the phone off the hook. Light a candle...Go out side and breathe the fresh air , or take a relaxing hot bath...do whatever is necessary to quiet yourself from within and without. See and feel your resistance to creating this safe, quiet space for yourself. Just observe. Please do not make a judgment. for we tend to beat ourselves up constantly on a daily basis drilling into our minds that whatever we are doing isn't good enough.
Then begin writing. Don't worry about how it comes out. Write about childhood memories that still burden you and weigh heavy in your emotional energy. Write about good times that you recall, that fill you up with joy, love. Write about the bittersweet times also.
Write about the mixed emotions you are experiencing as a caregiver. Write as much as you can without judging.... Observe whether you have taken on this role because you are the only one around that can do it, out of guilt, responsibility, obligation or love, or all of these reasons and perhaps more.
© 1/7/99 Gail R. Mitchell