Saturday, August 10, 2019

Caregivers and the ultimate gift - time

I get tired.

I get tired of always cheering, always holding my tongue or using it to encourage, praise or simply so that I can listen. I cook and clean and use so much of my time to entertain and inspire (inspiring takes work) and just trying to get her to eat like a normal person. The sobriety is heaven but there is still so much to be done in a life that has been tattered by alcoholism. She's just learning how to live a normal life. And I'm holding her up while she does. It takes time, a lot of time that could be mine. Time that I give away. Not just with these things but with the exhaustion that is a given and the time to recover.

And as I've said before, I'm not a caregiver in the traditional sense, but my life is wound up with hers in a way that can't be unraveled right now. I give it, time, because I want to give it, need to give it, can't seem to stop giving it. Am I codependent (I hate that word) or am I just being responsible? Responsible to the duty of motherhood - my guilt - my love. She's alone in the world, except for me. So how do I recover enough to grab time for me? I want to make art and I'm tired. I'm tired in my soul.

And she's not a victim. She struggles and succeeds and struggles some more and needs help. And gives compassion and is not blind to the effort I make, what I give up. And it takes time, a lot of time to recover. And so much has been lost, so much of her precious time.

I've been reading a book titled - Women's Work. It's written by Megan K. Stack. She was a war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and was up for a Pulitzer prize in international reporting.  She has written a book about her experience of motherhood, balancing her life as a writer with the all consuming tasks of caring for her home and husband and son in Beijing and Delhi.

The subject of the book is her conflict in seeking, hiring, and accepting help while trying to respect and understand the lives of the women who help her. She can't do it alone. Postpartum and the need to find the time and energy to finish the book she has been writing for two years, coupled with the guilt of letting someone else do the work she thinks she should be doing, which allows her the privilege of writing, weigh on her every day.  It's hard for her to accept it when she knows that the women who give it are probably leaving their own children and giving their precious time to care for her child. And there's a little bit of a feeling of failure in needing their help.

Time is capital. And sometimes I feel like I'm spending mine and I'm not replenishing it. Spending and not replenishing carries a level of fear and that fear invades the time that I try to steal for myself, for my art. It makes recovering it feel wasteful. I love the metaphor of a teeter-totte. Some times we get crashed to the ground and sometimes thrown into the air. Balancing carefully is the only safe way to get on and off.

"How many ideas, how many discoveries, how much art lost because the woman spent her time elsewhere? How many ideas stillborn, how many inventions undone, how much original thought passed off?" Says, Stark.

If I sound like I'm complaining, I don't care. It's just reality, my reality.

She has a good, good friend who has been trying to do things with her. Trying to get her out of the house and the small world that she has so far built. I'm very grateful for him. But here's the irony - when they are gone and I am alone, when I could fill in the black holes that dot my life, I don't. I pulled out some shells today and set them on the work table so that in the morning I have to awkwardly lean over them to open the curtains. Tomorrow, tomorrow I'll take the time.

Thank you to Elizabeth over at:
for helping me to not feel so guilty for taking time to help myself.

And to Ellen over at:
for inspiring me with your dedication to your own work.