WCP Life Solutions

How Do I Provide Care for Someone Who Hurt Me?

Let’s face it, my Dad was a cranky, opinionated, old son of a biscuit.  It’s no surprise considering he was a conservative Pastor for over 40 years.  As challenging my life was, I know it pales in comparison to the very real damage: physically, emotionally and spiritually faced by scores of others.  How does that play out when one is faced with taking on the role of caregiver for a family member or spouse who has been abusive?    elderly upset couple

Caregivers often struggle with the huge responsibility that is suddenly – or unexpectedly – thrust upon them. They know that society thinks they should care for their parents or spouse even if they don’t know that they can bring themselves too.  There may be the strong compunction of religious issues that require us to “honor their parents.”

For those caring for an elderly family member but feeling resentment and anger about their past actions: healing can happen.  Emotionally damaged families can find a way to forgive.  But, how does one forgive?

Today is Your Day of Peace

The ability to let go of past hurts is one of the keys to longevity and good health.  You can forgive without necessarily forgetting.  Past events cannot be changed, so don’t let them zap your emotional and spiritual energy.  This ultimately will be unhealthy, gets you nowhere and even work against you over time.  Instead, endeavor to stop branding family members for past behavior.  Instead, practice forgiveness for one’s failings.

Make It New

Movies are made of stories where estranged loved ones reunite, forgive their mutual pasts and create new stronger relationships out of the rubble of the past.  The individuals may not change, but the damaging dynamics of the past certainly can.  It is your task to take that energy and do your work in building a new relationship with one’s family.  Begin a new era in the timeline of your family and formerly damaging relationships by supporting a new family dynamic that fills and feeds your life rather than damaging and destroying it.

 Understand They Have Flawed Pasts, Too

Too often the damaging relationships we find ourselves in is due to the fact that our parents and spouses came to us damaged as well.  Their best laid plans and actions were flawed by their own experiences and slights which informed their process – they did what they knew to do.  It doesn’t make their past actions right or okay, and it certainly does not mean that abuse is ever excusable.  But, it may be part of the answer in how one can find the intestinal fortitude necessary to appreciate and care for them in the time you have left.

Accept It For What It Is

Why spend time wishing things were different?  Denial and transference only make things worse.  Don’t doubt having the strength and grace needed to change the world.  Once the role of caregiver is accepted, it needs to be done to the best of one’s ability with full strength and full grace.  Only in doing one’s best will life be what it is intended to be both for the caregiver and the one being cared for.

Stay Positive

Attitude is fully in your control even if you cannot change the circumstances.  Will you face the day with an attitude or an embrace?  People are going to act certain ways, and we cannot change that fact.  But those actions and decisions you face are all yours.  Are you “glass half full” or “glass half empty?”  Your attitude is what ultimately decides whether others can push your buttons or not…allowing one to drive our responses, and ultimately our happiness.

Seek Help #1

If you continue to struggle with how to forgive someone who’s wronged you in a significant way, seek help with a therapist who can help you work through your feelings.  Their work will help one go to deeper levels of growth and understanding as well as be a support through the process.  This can help you deal with the realities of what you have faced, but more importantly, provide you with tools to help you work through the daily challenge.  As you understand the actions that were so hurtful and damaging, it allows you to start moving forward.

Seek Help #2

Ultimately, some are not able to move beyond the hurt to forgive and move forward as a caregiver.  If not, then make that decision quickly and move forward to ensure the family member is cared for.  Home health and Care Communities are there as well to ensure a healthful and life-full environment needed to have the opportunity for a chosen quality of life.

Recently, I was touched by one attendee to a caregiver support group I led.  She was the ex-daughter-in-law.  She shared how awful her husband and his father had been to her over the years of her marriage, yet there was no one left to provide the care this man needed.  Amazingly, she took on that role.

All you can do is your best…to forgive, to forget (if you can), to let go and move forward standing strong.  Without the weight of those past hurts, live each day to the fullest, with love, gratitude and forgiveness.

Genesis Life Transitions is there to help with the challenging decisions and actions that come with aging.  We are specialists at helping you deal with conflict between family members, decisions around life changes, and taking the steps necessary to have your voice heard all the way to the end.  And, we always provide a free consultation.  Call today.