I carry it well. . .

A few weeks ago I met a friend for coffee. It had been a long time since the two of us had connected in person and it was so good to see him again. We had a lot to talk about, catching up on family matters, learning about job-related activities and all the usual conversation. I was very pleased to be able to just sit with him and hear how his life is going.

On top of all he does as a mid-life executive, dad and husband, he also has aging parents and in-laws to keep track of and sometimes he must step in as a caregiver. It is a lot to carry and I marvel at his strength and stamina.

What surprised me most was my reaction to a very simple question. At the start of our conversation, my dear friend asked me, “Well, it’s been at least a decade now, how are you doing?”

pile of painted rocks, in foreground one says "I love you"

I had one of those rare moments when I suddenly feel “seen” – like I’ve been hiding out in the corner and suddenly someone has spotted me and revealed my presence. My friend was sincerely asking how I was holding up under the weight of a decade of Alzheimer’s care and I found myself embarrassed by the simple truth – it is a heavy load!

My eyes filled with tears and, while I didn’t fall apart or give in to the opportunity for drama, I did realize that as I complete year eleven of this journey, it has been a long and challenging road. I am tired of the burden and I do feel the weight of my responsibility, even though I carry it well.

Being seen is a curious thing. We all long for it but, at the same time, because it is so viscerally revealing, it can upset us as well. We are proud people who feel the need to hold it together, even when we’re offered the opportunity to fall apart.

I know for myself, I don’t get that invitation very often (to genuinely reveal myself, my feelings or my exhaustion) and when it comes, I’m caught off-guard. I suspect that this is a common experience for most caregivers!

Feeling seen means you feel recognized and accepted for who you are by another person. The one who sees you may feel like a kindred spirit because they simply understand you and what you’re going through with little to no explanation. It feels like you’ve been offered a “soft place to fall” by someone who appreciates all that you’ve been carrying. That’s how my friend made me feel that day.

Are you someone who’s carrying it well? It can feel pretentious at times – like you’re keeping up a strong façade in the hope that no one will notice that you’re quietly falling apart inside. In my coaching practice, this is often where I meet my clients – they’ve been holding it together for friends and family, but in their quiet, private moments, they realize that the burden is heavy and the journey can be long. They’re exhausted and relieved to learn that in our conversation, I can genuinely see them.

There’s a saying in the world of mental/emotional health, “Deal with your feelings or they will deal with you!” And this is exactly that sort of moment, when feelings come to the surface, it is deeply important that we can talk about them and be honest about the load we carry.

Whatever you’re carrying, and it may be a caregiver’s load or something else equally as challenging to sustain, I wish for you the opportunity to be seen – to be revealed for who you are and what you’re managing – that is truly a gift.

Even if, like me, you are someone who carries it well, it doesn’t mean that wouldn’t appreciate the opportunity to talk about it, to share the burden with someone who can understand and respect what you’ve been silently lifting.

You may carry it well, but that doesn’t make it weigh less or feel more balanced on your shoulders. Finding that place where you can deal with your feelings in a healthy, constructive way is a marvelous, stress-relieving moment.

Always know that I’m here to help – to acknowledge the load you are carrying, and to see you for who you genuinely are, an amazing and self-less person who may simply need permission to take better care of yourself!

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

Recent Posts

The phrase "love your life" sits in neon lights over the top of a multi-colored, striped background

What if you could LOVE your life?

There’s a lot of noise out there on how to love your life. I call it noise because the advice I’ve discovered isn’t based on ...
Read More →
Light skinned woman sitting down, with a white, fuzzy blanket and a laptop on her lap leaning her head to one side, with her two hands massaging her neck on the other side. There is a side table next to her with three beautiful roses in a white vase, and a white coffee mug.

Translating Body Language

Ordinarily this phrase, translating body language, would mean having the ability to understand what’s going on inside of others when they interact with the world and ...
Read More →
Two younger, light skinned hands coming from the top of the frame holding two elderly, light skinned hands coming from the bottom of the frame

Gratitude, Grit & Grace

It’s been a while since I wrote about the 3-Gs that consistently get me through life, Gratitude, Grit & Grace. They’re always present in my life and ...
Read More →
How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.