An ah-ha moment appeared yesterday, quick as a hummingbird and just as unexpected.
There is a difference between caring for a person and rescuing them.
What? That’s all you got?
Okay, here’s the back story. For the the past decade, I’ve been caretaking my elderly father, age 86. At the nudging of the Lord, after noticing his slurred speech during long distance phone conversations, I flew out to Las Vegas in 2003 to check on his well-being. He was in poor health, drinking excessively and inadvertently over medicating himself. An intervention was required. He agreed to relocate to Florida to be near his two daughters and grandchildren.
Fast forward thirteen years to 2015. His health has been stabilized by routine medical care and appropriate prescription medication protocol. However, my dad’s behavior can be dysfunctional, at times. As a former alcoholic, he has developed the habit of manipulating people, therefore years ago I learned that setting boundaries with him was essential for MY well-being.
Lately, it seems, no matter how many doctors’ he consults, he has on-going health related issues that he repeatedly serves me on a silver platter of disgruntled complaints. It is my own fault really. After years of problem solving for him, I have trained him to rely heavily on my solutions.
Codependence? Not intentionally, anyway. My husband and I are just trying to be responsible, caring adult caretakers of a family member. But as Dad proceeded to spell out (for the umpteeth time) the SAME issues … I can’t see the numbers on my glucose meter … I can’t read this magazine …. I can’t take that new medication anymore, it makes me have to lie down …
The lightbulb came on. I am not required to rescue him from this. I cannot solve all of his problems. He must take responsibility for his own life. Once again, boundaries cry out for enforcement. So, as I realized that there is a difference between caring for a person and rescuing them, I smiled. I breathed. I relaxed. I could feel my shoulders descending into place.
At that moment, a Commodores song came on the radio uplifting my mood considerably. I sang along greedily.
Thank you, Lord for stepping into my tiny world with insightful and practical revelation. I am learning and re-learning lessons on boundaries, dealing with dysfunctional people and how to protect my joy!