|View from the top of Haleakala Crater, Hawaii|
Care Giving, it's not for everyone and at times, I honestly believe it's not for me either. It just took me until the end of my time as my mom's full-time Care Giver to figure it out.
Lately, I've been reflecting on the experiences as a Care Giver for my mom, all the phases that we've made our way through. Thinking to myself, "Ah, now we figured it out," only to be disappointed by another decline and increased dependency; changes that steal a little more of my mom, leaving me with an 81 year old baby.
What made me do it? Why did I chose to be my mom's Care Giver? Why have I worked so hard to find a way to ease the progression of her illness? Why have I been a carer for people my entire life? What was my motive?
Now that I've gone through life as a Care Giver, I realized that I do it for approval. I've always wanted approval from everyone around me. I wanted to be noticed and to be deemed as a worthwhile person, someone who's needed. I was searching for love and affection.
I chased approval but could never catch it. I was looking for approval outside of myself... I would never obtain what I was seeking. I had people all around me but still felt alone and empty. I did more and became more miserable.
Approval. We all want to be liked and accepted. We want to be part of a Monkeysphere, where we feel part of a community and recognized for our greatness. The race for approval will make us do things that we never thought we could do; the need for the feel good approval buzz is our driving force.
My mom is demented and the one person in this world that I have been chasing for approval my entire life. It never came. I realize now that it will never come from my mom, it needs to come from within me. Only I can make myself happy and feel satisfied with my life choices.
Approval is like God, it's within. You can't see it, you feel it and we always seem to look outside of ourselves for it. Looking outside of ourselves for approval or God, rarely leads to a happy ending. Even those who go to church all the time are seeking approval from a God that is outside of themselves... no wonder folks "sin."
We want the approval blessing from others in our circle, especially family. Rarely does it come and when it doesn't, our feelings are hurt. Words are spoken, words that cut and can't be retrieved; we find ourselves farther away from the very thing we desire. Hard feelings begin to build a wall, sealing in our only chance for approval.
Some of us will try harder and then there are those of us who just say "screw it, I'll never be good enough." I happen to be one of those folks who tried harder for approval. I became an over achiever. Even while my mom declined, sinking deeper into her demented world; I tried to gain her approval. She isn't capable to give me what I want or need any longer; she never was capable because I held the key to what I wanted.
Chasing approval of others brings sadness. Our expectations are never met because we are not even sure what it is that we expect. We search. We come up empty. We do more and it brings more of the same hollow pit in our gut longing to be filled.
What I've come to understand fully is to approve of myself first and then the rest of the world will also approve of me. I need to have the approval of the most important person in my world... ME. How can anyone else approve of me if I don't even approve of me?
My dad used to tell me when I was a little girl, "Susie, the only one that you know exists is yourself. When I walk out of this room, I don't exist anymore, you don't know for sure if I do because you can't see me. Be true to yourself and the world will be yours."
Finally, after so many decades, I understand what my dad was attempting to teach me. I approve of me. I love me. My world is mine.
What made me do it? I was searching outside of myself. I was looking to other people to fill my void, even if it meant over extending myself, compromising my personal happiness. I was never happy because I didn't feel satisfied, something was missing.
However, I did discover that the answer was always with me, it just took me 50 years to find approval. I approve!