[Here's the latest in 'Survivor' winner Jenna Morasca's continuing series on her supporting role as a caregiver in longtime boyfriend and fellow 'Survivor' winner Ethan Zohn's battle with cancer.]
I don’t sugar coat things. I can be brutally honest, sometimes to a fault. My friends and family are well aware to expect an honest answer if they ask me a question. In order for me to feel I do this blog justice I think it would be wrong of me not to mention the dark days we caretakers can have.
As much as I like to pretend I am made of steel I am not, as a duty we caretakers take on this role with an iron spine, but we are only human. And all humans have moments of weakness.
When Ethan got his first cancer diagnosis, I was scared and angry (we covered this on one of my first blog), but not to the extent I was more recently when we got the news his cancer had returned. This time the news hit me like a lead anchor; I could feel it dragging me down day by day, trying to take me under to the deepest darkest waters where I could never escape.
Normally when someone is ill or gets diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer they are allowed to be sad, allowed to have dark days, and there is someone (that would be us) there to comfort them and bring them back to life. But the question is, who is there to comfort us? I know, this question sounds selfish to some; they ask, “Why are you so concerned with yourself? You are not the one with cancer.”
My answer to that is that we ALL need to feel love, happiness, and have someone who rescues us from the dark waters when the anchor is to heavy for us to bear. How can we be good caretakers when in our own mind we are sinking so deeply?
I have had these days recently; I hate to admit this but its true (brutally honest again). Days where I did not want to get out of bed, had no desire to do anything I normally love (dog park anyone), and could care less how many things I needed to cancel in order for me to wallow.
Is this the best way to handle these days?
But I wanted to have a day to wallow in my own self-pity, to yell things like “oh how did my life come to this” and “what did I do to deserve this.” When it gets really bad I know its time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get moving.
My job as caretaker then overrides my feelings of sadness. I force myself to do something that requires me to get OUT of the house, and that usually does the trick. But there are days where I feel a wave of sadness come on and I let it pass knowing when the moment is right to get out of this thought process.
I wanted to write this blog to make it ok to say, “yes I’m sad today and having a bad day and I need some love too”. Sometimes the hardest job is tending to those you love the most, and a burnout caretaker is a useless one. If you’re having one of these days, do something about it, visit a therapist, a friend, a spiritual healer, anything that makes you feel whole again. The darkness will pass, the anchor will lift, and life will move forward. Feel free to share your stories of darkness to light below; we can all support each other in this journey.