I am a caregiver. It’s my nature as a “fixer” and–for better or for worse–my calling as a nurse. And like most caregivers it is difficult for me to ask to be cared for. It’s one of the lessons I learned when I broke my back: the power in vulnerability of asking for assistance and care. It takes courage to admit when you are hurting or simply just flagging in energy.
A couple of weeks ago my half full glass tumbled off the side of the table and shattered into little bits. It’s too tedious to explain why I was spent, but after almost a year and a half in my new nursing role I experienced the very real and very scary “caregiver’s fatigue”. Been there done that at least sixty times in thirty years.
“Did you have a better day? Are you off tomorrow?”
“No and no” was my flat reply.
“I wish I had known this. I would have brought you dinner.”
His response made me cry. This whole relationship thing is new to me. People in relationship ask one another for help and they want to be there for you. I didn’t give him a chance to show me how much he cares for me. Dinner was secondary.
Why didn’t I message him earlier? I would have loved dinner with Dr. Doctor.
I hate this job. Hate. This. Job. I need to be around someone who doesn’t need me. I need to be in the midst of something I don’t loathe.
I should have sent him that message mid afternoon when I was drowning. But it didn’t occur to me to ask for emotional support because that degree of emotional intimacy and need scares me. It doesn’t scare me if it’s asked of me. Oh Hell no, I’m the fixer and the caregiver. It terrifies me to be that vulnerable. But a healthy relationship is an exchange. I need to give my him the chance to care for me when I need it. On that very note, a wise and dear friend said: “there is strength and vulnerability in accepting the offer [of help]”.
Asking for help shouldn’t be this difficult. The knot in my back where my mangled third lumbar vertebrae lives should be a consistent reminder I deserve care and assistance whether it be physical or emotional. So before I break something else I’m going to get this right and ask.