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And the Walls Come Tumbling Down

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!!

In the Middle Ages the Kings built moats around their castles to protect the palace.  They would come up with inventive methods to protect themselves from invaders.  The Kings were conscious of the fact that others wanted to do them harm and they continuously found ways to create space between those wanting to inflict pain and the safety of their kingdom.  As we move through history we can see modern day manifestations of this same idea.  Following September 11th they closed Pennsylvania Avenue running past the White House to motor vehicles.  These measures are for physical safety, and although they are meant to instill confidence in personal emotional or spiritual safety that’s usually an illusion.

Safety and security are paramount to the goal of every caregiver I’ve ever met.  Creating a strong exterior provides the front most caregivers need to continue providing care to someone who is trying to survive a health challenge.  For many, that wall of safety keeps things in order for a long time.  You’re able to justify all behaviors and thoughts because it’s for the greater good.  The problem is that for many caregivers, there comes a day when there is a crack in the security wall and in that moment you realize your level of fragility and that’s scarier than any symptom or treatment you’ve helped your love one get through.

Before that crack becomes visible it’s easy to take a stand and be on a soap box about your role, but once the crack is visible the person you have to confront is yourself.  It’s the moment when you realize how scared and helpless you feel.  For many that moment is when the doctors tell you that death is imminent.  It’s the moment when you give yourself the permission and freedom to take a deep breath, and it’s on the exhale that reality hits.  The energy you’ve put on keeping your focus on the patient suddenly is transformed to a more personal level and that’s a place many caregivers have avoided out of necessity for a very long time.

It’s like what happens when a rock hits the windshield of your car and creates a small crack.  Left unattended that crack will begin to spread and eventually look like a spider web, far reaching and causing lots of interference.  It’s the loss of focus that makes the walls come tumbling down.  It’s in that very moment that loss of focused energy leaves you floundering and trying with your might to reassemble that place of order, but it’s impossible.  At some point you have to surrender and for caregivers the idea of surrender is like speaking a foreign language.  You’ve been so strong and so determined without waivering and all of a sudden you’re faced with a reality that isn’t manageable, controllable or even comprehensible.

What was that moment for you?  How did you handle going from caregiver to the person who needed support and attention from others?  Was there a moment when you just let it go and being in the moment experienced the process differently than you could have ever imagined?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

2 thoughts on “And the Walls Come Tumbling Down

  1. I have expressed the following thoughts before on several blogs. However, I believe they are worth repeating. Caregiver burnout is a major issue for those with this awesome responsibility. Don’t overlook the role of humor to make things more bearable. Things that made me angry and frustrated when my mother (who had dementia)was alive, in retrospect are filled with funny happenings. This is true too for the many caregivers who read my blog and contact me about my book which emphasizes humor as a healing balm. Caregivers need all the emotional support they can get.

    Bob Tell, Author
    Dementia Diary, A Caregiver’s Journal

    1. I completely agree just as I did the last time you submitted this virtually verbatum response, but there is a breath of experience that caregivers are experiencing. The experience that I spoke about that you’re responding to is in real time, not the accumulation of experience from caregivers. Real time means real disclosure. There is a time for humor and I think we can’t live without it, but now that you’ve responded with this response twice I’m hoping that you don’t believe that humor is the magic pill that will make the pain of caregiving tolerable or even enjoyable.

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