For carers and those in caring professions

“I’m so tired, my tired is tired” -Winnie the Pooh

I relate so well to this cuddly little bear’s statement. As I sit at the computer reflecting on what to write about, all I can come up with is a deep sense of my own tiredness. This weariness is felt mostly in my body; the musculature and in my head but I cannot deny that as my body tires so too does my mind.

There is a context to my fatigue: there is always context! I have come to the end of a long week in which I have been caring for children and taking on new responsibilities. This has actually been quite a significant week in my journey but until just now I had not realised or appreciated how much my body and mind had accomplished. So as I write, I acknowledge this busyness and permit my body to feel it’s exhaustion: it has been working hard.

Often we don’t stop long enough to appreciate our context and subsequently honour our physical and emotional experiencing. For some time now it has been on my heart to write to those engaged in caring professions and those who voluntarily care for others and loved ones. What precious souls you are. I have known and been in loving receipt of such caring from numerous, selfless individuals.

There is often a commonality among those who care, they can sometimes forget to care for themselves. Most of us have heard the metaphor, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. And yet, so often we try to and can even feel guilty for taking the time to refill our own cup. I know previously I would have invested so much time and energy in the care of others that I could not see the cracks appearing in my own life. With this also came a reluctance to admit my struggles, I was the carer after all, people depended on me.

Perhaps like me, you have felt reluctant to share your struggles at various points of your life or career. Could there be a special stigma reserved for those engaged in caring and therapeutic work? I invite you, as I do myself, to disregard any notion or expectation of needing to be “wholly healed mentally or physically”- whatever that would look like! I encourage you to seek the support you need and deserve to continue to live in wholeness, casting aside shame and its accusations.

In Adrienne Rich’s poem “Power” she writes of Marie Curie who died, ‘denying her wounds came from the same source as her power’. I don’t think any of us engaged in the healing professions or caring roles can deny that at some point they have questioned, ‘Am I cut out for this?’. But I suggest that this question perhaps points to the truth of life, that it is in our shared humanity and humility that we encounter ourselves and others.

The words of Yalom ring in my ears as I write, ‘we are all fellow travellers’. If I truly believe that we are all fellow travellers on this journey of life, who experience life in all its ups and downs, then I must accept my own humanness in that journey also, granting myself the same grace and unconditional positive regard I would lavish on another. The point where we stop encountering ourselves and grappling with our own issues, is where we start to lose our effectiveness in our caring pursuits.

Let us never forget our humanity, the wonderful wisdom we have within us to heal and the onus we have to nurture ourselves as we walk alongside others. Let us never deny that we are also on our own healing journey and with those wounds can come great power to touch and connect with another human being. Do not deny your own path, own it, embrace it!

So as I go to replenish my energies with a movie and an early night, I am reminded that when we own and appreciate the liveliness of our own lives and needs, they can become superpowers all of their own to touch a hurting world.

Take care x

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