How Silence Saved Me
There were moments, as a Caregiver, when I didn't feel like I could go on. When my mother first became ill, I thought I could keep my life and also help her save hers. I was working in Public Relations, at the time, and waitressing at night. I was living the life as a young 20 something in NYC living with my girlfriends in an apartment none of us could afford but loved. I wanted desperately to retain some sense of what everyone else around me was doing. Living a carefree life...
Eventually, it became impossible and exhausting and I made the decision to leave work and move back in with my mother to be there full time. And then I realized I hadn't known what exhausted truly was. Chemo treatments began multiples times during the week and it forced her to leave her own full time job as a teacher. The entire day revolved around how to get her through it with as little pain and suffering as possible.
And at night, while she would try to sleep, I would sit and listen for any sound of her needing me. I barely slept. I hardly ate. And I was consuming insane quantities of wine to numb just how bad things had become.
I remember sitting in a hospital hallway one day, with my head against the wall, and my eyes closed wondering how we would get through this. And all of a sudden it became very clear, we would manage because we had to. There was no way over this but through it. And the only thing I had control of, was how I was going to react to it.
I realized that I could control how I managed my new role in life. And I would do so because I had no choice. And so I sat, and kept my eyes closed and began to take deep breaths and I began to meditate. Right there in the middle of a busy New York hospital.
What I found was that by taking a few moments, in a hospital or in a bathroom or on the floor of her bedroom, to sit in silence and to focus on nothing but being calm that I became the best version of myself and her Caregiver.
I used this to help me when doctors gave us bad news, or even if it was good day but I was just really fucking over it. I took a deep breath and I closed my eyes and I just sat. It allowed me to be calm, and it helped me to regain the strength and energy it took to care for her.
I urge you to try this. Meditation is not something that is just done by hippies or Yoga masters or those who are enlightened. You're not going to begin to levitate or automatically smell like patchouli. But you will find yourself managing your stress and your own pain in ways you didn't think possible.
Try it today, and if it doesn't work today try again tomorrow and the day after. I promise you, you will thank yourself.
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