Finding Strength and Grace When I am OverwhelmedBy
January was an incredibly difficult month for me. It began on the first day of the month. My elderly mother who lives with me fell, and we spent half of the day in the ER making sure she was okay and getting her head sewn up.
Three weeks later, she fell again. This time the ER visit turned into an 8 day hospital stay and now has become patient in a rehab facility. While caring for my mother has been my priority, I’ve been stretched to my limits on how to care for myself.
All of a sudden my emotional, physical, mental resources were stretched as I found myself trying to juggle a job, kids, husband, church, and an almost full-time demand from my mother for my attention. Now in Mom’s normal state, she would insist that I not stretch myself too thin for her sake but these are not normal days for Mom. She is in the throes of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Strange hospital and rehab settings have frightened her and I am her comfort.
On paper, that may not sound like a big deal but in reality it’s been almost more than I can handle. I can’t begin to describe how guilty I’ve felt every time I’ve left the hospital or rehab facility with her crying for me to stay. Many days, I’ve gone to bed struggling with guilt and woke up feeling guilty.
Now I get it intellectually. There is only so much of me. I know Mother is safe and well-cared for by her nurses and care staff. But emotionally, I am spent, exhausted, stretched to my limits, and I am sad. Sad beyond words that my mother is losing so much of her memory. Sad that she thought her caregiver was me all night one night this week. I am grieving the loss of part of my mother. The things she can no longer remember that are part of our history together.
And I have been trying, diligently, to have healthy boundaries. Everything I know about maintaining healthy boundaries has been challenged.
Can I detach from the situation and be present emotionally with my husband and children? What do I need to say no to in order to survive the here and now? What do I need personally in order to find calm and peace? What is appropriate and what is unrealistic? How many hours do I need to spend at the rehab center?
As the only living child, the weight of my decisions feels crushing. Doctors advise and then look to me for decisions.
I’ve cancelled so many of my work appointments in order to help Mother and yet my work anchors me. Gives me life. Calms me. Feels purposeful. And I juggle.
It’s getting a bit easier but it’s far from over.
I tried to write something more hopeful but this is where I am. This is my reality. Tears are always just under the surface.
The tug-of-war between the voices in my head and heart continue.
I’m trying to lean into God’s presence and His grace but often find myself anxious.
But I remember the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 61:2, “When I am overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
I am crawling up on that rock and collapsing, knowing that when I don’t have anything to give, He strengthens me. And also knowing that He beckons me to live through these days with my Superwoman cape still packed away and refusing to put it on, no matter how much it seems necessary. I hear Him reminding me of my humanness. My limits. His sufficiency. His unlimitedness. My weakness. His strength.
I try to remember that the Higher Rock has the big picture in view, the one I can’t completely see yet. Well truthfully, for the most part, I can’t even see a glimpse of it but I believe and I trust that He does.
And I am so glad He doesn’t condemn me for being overwhelmed but provides a place for me in Him to find peace and strength.
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