My husband had been in the hospital, critically ill, for weeks one day when I broke down in tears during a workout. Concerned gym buddies consoled me and someone said, “You’ve got to stay positive!”
“Do I, though?” I wanted to ask. I was urged to stay positive a lot during the years I was a caregiver for my husband Brad, through two kinds of lymphoma and a stem cell transplant that nearly killed him. The advice was always well meant, and I always forced a smile, but inside resentment flared.
I left mad, even though I’d gone to the gym to keep up with my self-care, following that other advice often given to caregivers: you have to take care of yourself. I bristled at that, too; self-care added more items to my ever-growing to-do list. Other variations on the stay-positive theme touched a raw nerve: “You’ve got this!” led me to wonder if I had a handle on anything, and at “stay strong” I wanted to collapse into a weak heap, preferably while wearing my softest pajamas.
I am currently helping friends with their severely disabled child. The child needs round-the-clock supervision; this is especially challenging...