So, if you are still with me, you are intrigued or asking yourself the same question about your current circumstance. It’s all good because inquiry is what leads to our true purpose or back to our true nature. In order to really connect with you, here is a little about how I got HERE.
Do you ever see your life in chapters? Well I do. I have had very pivotal moments in my life that have caused massive shifts and changes in a matter of minutes. This first shift occurred on my high school graduation day. This chapter is called And so it begins….
My dad had become very ill that week. The morning of my graduation I dropped him off at a doctor’s appointment and then went to rehearsal. When I was finished, I went home, but neither of my parents were there, just my siblings. I decided to drive back to the clinic to see what was going on. As I drove past the hospital, I saw all of my relative’s cars outside of the Emergency Room. As I walked in, the waiting room was full of family, minus my siblings, red-eyed and teary. Diagnosis: brain tumor. I was brought back to my Dad. After a long, tearful, heartbroken embrace, my Dad said to me, “Cara, you are going to have to take care of them.” In shock, disbelief and being the obedient oldest child, I nodded yes. I had no idea what I was agreeing to, but in that moment, my Dad knew he wouldn’t be around and that based upon our family dynamics, I would be the most able, or maybe the most willing to take on the job of family problem solver, caregiver and manager. You see, my Dad was 39….my mother was 36….my siblings, 14, 12 and 11. How does one go about pursuing their passions and a love of life when the tables are turned so quickly at that age? Well, you don’t. At least I didn’t. I took my Father’s request to heart and continued this role for 20 years. What did that look like? Well, all of my siblings had lived with me and were supported financially by me at one point or another. My mother who remarried and tried to find stability and happiness again, divorced and lived with me to restart her life in another state. I cared for my nephew during a tumultuous time in my brother’s life. I received a phone call from my other brother who was telling me he was committing suicide. Caregiving after trauma and loss is a lot like nursing. You see people at their absolute best and their absolute worst. Riding that rollercoaster of fear and devotion does not provide the space for much else.
I share this with you to provide a point of reference. I mean, it’s interesting that a 43 year-old woman has never been married or had children (i.e. what’s wrong with her?). My career? A nurse. So I was providing care round the clock and being the motivated, driven individual I am, where did I work? Surgery, ICU and management, of course. So the question, “how did I get here?” arose more times than not. As I was nearing 40, the fear began to churn in my heart again. The thought, “I have to get my own life”, kept resonating over and over in my mind. Despite the fact that my family would always need support and care, I had to figure out how to help with love in a healthy manner that supported a life for myself. Not knowing what was next, I accepted a job in Central California, 16 hours away from family to start over or Begin Again.
While there are many details of this “story” that I leave for another time, another entry, know that I do not regret those years. I learned that I have strength, emotional intelligence, a capacity to care and an ability to shoulder the emotional load that is larger than I could have ever known. Being able to provide that stability that was lost that day was a blessing and I know at the end of the day I MADE A DIFFERENCE in many lives and having that purpose is an honor. Did I know that 5 years ago? Hell no. I had to dig and fight for that too….for myself….my self worth.
Know that you have purpose too. We all do. If you do not readily identify with what this is, know that it is waiting for you to uncover, to discover. First steps in identifying your purpose is to ensure you are connected to yourself. What do you do for yourself on a daily basis? What makes you happy and smile from within? I realize these are fairly simple questions, but if there are not real answers there, my suggestion is to start journaling to find it out. I have journaled from an early age. “Dear diary….”. It sounds cliché, but it works. Putting your thoughts and feelings on paper allows for an emotional and mental shift to clarify and create the space to be present. What do I mean by present? Aware of your daily life, your daily connections, your relationships, the real shit that matters. Meditation also works. Again, creating mental space for presence to occur. I have a section of 3 minute meditations on this blog. Consider meditating the moment you awake. 3 minutes to set yourself up for your day. Hang with me as I build this library.
I have included some articles below about journaling and meditation for reference. These activities do not require an expensive, special journal or an altar for meditation. They only require a willingness to dive deeper into what it is you truly want for yourself.
Your work as a caregiver is meaningful. Know that it will not get you praise, honor or even a thank you some days. Consider what YOU need to fill your cup to continue this journey. Create the space….