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Guilt Comes Knocking /
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When Guilt Comes Knocking
By Kate Murphy, RN
Goodness, isn't that a familiar
word? You would think that mature rational adults like
us would be above feeling "guilt" about the emotions our
care giving can evoke. Not so. I am a mature and
rational adult. I am a registered nurse who works with
the elderly and their families. I counseled these same
families on how to deal with the everyday issues,
Yet, there I was, reduced at times to a quivering mass
of jelly by a word or a look from my parent. I took care
parents for over 17 years. And, it took every bit of
those 17 years to realize how easily I reacted to the
buttons my parents have "pushed" to get me to do what
they wanted. It often caused untold hardship to my
personal life, yet I refused to see it for what it was.
Worse, I refused to take appropriate action to ensure
that it did not happen again. It was finally through the
wonder of this truly magical medium, the Internet, that
I was able to recognize and deal with guilt. There were
days that I would rather not live through again, and
there is still a little part of me that still feels a
twinge every now and then. But I survived the journey,
and I am here to tell every one of you out there that
there is help for you.
We help each other. We support each other. And we make
caregiving a little easier for each other. The fact that
you are here is one of the first steps in getting that
help. I am no expert. But I am a caregiver who has had
to deal with all sorts of problems.
Dealing with Guilt--okay enough of the clichés you say.
How DO you deal with the guilt, you may ask? Well, I can
give you a list of references (and probably will, now
that I think about it), but I found that just reading
about something doesn't always cut it for me. So I will
try to express here one or two of the things that I
personally found helpful.
Once I was able to recognize that guilt existed within
me, I had to also realize that no one gave it to me.
Guilt is a self-made emotion. We do it to ourselves. We
take those words, or actions of others and internalize
them. Probably because we are looking for a reason to be
guilty. Whatever the reason is that causes the guilt to
develop, it is wasted energy. It is energy that we could
be using for good, healthy, and, productive outlets.
Kate’s Rule number 1… NEVER GO TO SLEEP FEELING
GUILTY!!! Really, I mean it!! Each night before I go to
sleep, before I ask God for strength to get through
tomorrow, or thank Him for today's blessings, I ask
myself one question. Do I believe in my heart that I
have done the best that I could today for my loved one
and myself? Notice I said MYSELF. If I fail to do the
best for me, how can I possibly be any good to anyone
else? And never mind what others have to say about what
you are doing or how your are doing it. YOU are the one
providing care my dear, and YOU are the one living it
everyday. What you believe about your actions is all
that matters. And if you truly believe that you have
done your best on this one day, then you have absolutely
nothing to feel guilty about.
So the next time guilt comes knocking at your door,
don't answer it. Leave it outside where it belongs. And
when you put your head down on that pillow tonight, rest
easy knowing that you are doing the very best that you
can with what you have been given.