Group of friends enjoying spending time together and making a selfie.

This is not how I expected to spend my early 30s. My parents had hardly had a minute to enjoy their “empty nest” before I needed to move back in to help my parents take care of my brother.

Right after his accident it was like the world stopped and everything revolved around him. People came out of the woodwork to help. None of us had to cook a meal for weeks.

But gradually people went on with their own lives. For us, it became clear that he wasn’t going to recover. At least not enough to go back to the life he had before. And that meant that we weren’t, either.

My mom was able to retire early. Thankfully, I didn’t move far when I moved out, so at first I tried to keep my own place. After a few months, the driving back and forth got to be too much, even if it wasn’t a long drive. Plus, with all the added expenses and the medical bills that kept arriving, it was clear that my parents were going to need help keeping up with it all.

So I moved back home. Saying that feels like I failed somehow, but obviously this was what I needed to do for my family. Still, it came with a huge loss of independence.

My parents don’t treat me like a child anymore. This horrible change in circumstances has led them to treat me as an equal. With equal responsibilities.

The hardest thing is having my whole life change so suddenly and watching my friends continue their normal lives — the life that used to be mine, too — play out on Instagram and Facebook.

The thing is, I don’t want to accept that this is what my life is. My mom tells me to be grateful that I can at least still go to work. And it’s true. There used to be so many days when I dreaded going into the office and now it’s a reprieve from the stress at home.

My parents are great and I’ve always been close with them, but I don’t want my immediate family to be my only social circle.

There are three of us, so theoretically I should still be able to go out sometimes. And I do. But the whole time I worry about what’s going on at home. I worry that my parents resent that I’m out and they’re not. And I feel guilty for leaving them to do it all on their own after being gone all day at work.

Mostly things are okay. We’re so busy it’s just one moment to the next, one day after another. People say that eventually things will be more routine, fewer fire drills. I’m ready for that day to come.

It makes me really wish I’d gotten married before this happened. If I can hardly make it out of the house to see my friends, how can I date? I feel like not only have I, in a lot of ways, lost my brother. I’ve lost my whole life.

I can’t imagine meeting someone partly because I can’t really relate to anyone anymore. My friends are talking about work and gossip and all the things I used to care about, too, and now it seems so pointless. I just don’t know what to do.

Lyndsey Joy

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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