I have strayed from my openness and my honesty. I have removed emotion, pulled away, put many things in a box of day-to-day and things to do. It is not hard to do – if you focus on what has to be done in a day, the day goes by. You can avoid what is in front of you, ignore what is bothering you, pretend that things are okay.
I am the queen of get it done. I always have been. I am a list checker, thing finisher, idea completer. I like to be that person.
Lately, that person is all I am.
And it is unsustainable.
I find that moments of sheer panic, over an imagined incident or fear can and does occur. Exhaustion, from both emotional control and lack of sleep, creates a super storm of a mess. A mess that I know is being monitored, but a mess nonetheless.
It is exhausting holding everyone else together. And I know, when I look around, that I really don’t have to do that, but it is an old habit, and a hard one to break after doing it for so long. I can let go, let me be, let me feel and deal, but facing that ball of emotion is unnerving. As someone recently told me, secrets and emotions held too tightly become bigger than they really are – in our eyes, they grow, become insurmountable, until we feel we can never face them. Never deal with them. Never get over them.
It has a name – it is called caregiver fatigue. It is the face of someone holding it together for so long that when they can finally let go, they don’t know how. The transition seems unnatural, somehow different and wrong. Things can never go back – going back will never happen. But moving forward does, and trying to breath again to move forward is the hardest part for the caregiver.
I wish I could breath, just a little. But I am not ready yet, for whatever reason. And I am aware that sooner or later it has to happen.
But I don’t want to let go just yet. Even if my arms are tired, and the time has come, I am just not ready to face my own stuff yet.
Because it is so much easier to be the caregiver, and help others deal with their pain.
So much easier than dealing with my own.
I see my own fatigue and fear in the faces, voices and writing of the others on this same journey. We are like a pack of nomads, on a seemingly never ending journey, one in which we never signed up for, but will never stop, because we are committed to be a part of that journey. The paths are different for all of us, and the journeys will never truly end, but we are in this together.
Tired. Lonely. Worried. Sad. Hopeful. Hopeless.
Fear not for us though, because many of us have one another to lean on, to go to, to be with. It is just in those moments of alone, when we look in the mirror, that we face what is our own inner worry. And we don’t like what we see. We turn away, and go back to worrying about the others, and our families, and our injured warriors.
To those of us that live alongside a trauma, the emotions are fear and worry. To those living in the trauma, the fear is different. It can be riddle with uncertainty, and feelings of dejection. Frustration at the tasks that were once so easy, and the activities that were taken for granted. The hope of a return to normal, and the worry that it will never come. The loss of dreams, the hope for the future, the never ending search for what was.
I can’t make the healing go faster. I can’t create a better environment to heal in. I can’t promise a return to normal.
I can try to face the fears that arise. I can work to unwind the self protection that I have built. I can try to face my own fear and sadness.
But not today. Today we finish our day – of work, and play, and smiles, and laughter. Of worry, and hope, and fear, and love.