Jun 17, 2012

Foundation for Caregiving?

"For years I would shelve my light to take care of others. When growing up, I had to check myself at the door like a coat in order to relate to others.  Often, I had to pretend to be less than I was in order to be loved." Mark Nepo

I was struck by Nepo's poetic writing of how we are sometimes trained by our family of origin to diminish our light in order to not be a threat to others or to the family system.  This type of training is a perfect backdrop for creating a caregiver.  We might call it a perfect storm:  a family system which trains people to diminish their own light and then a life situation which calls for someone to rescue someone else.  A dear friend told me of a story, reportedly true, of Marlon Brando.  It was told to me that Marlon Brando could consciously choose whether to be visible or not.  He would practice getting on a bus, and he could diminish his light (his essence of himself) to such an extent that people did not recognize him; and conversely, he could get on a bus fully shining of himself, and be recognized and asked for autographs.  To consciously choose whether or not to let our essence be seen is probably a good thing, but I think that those of us who end of being caregivers may not consciously choose whether to shine or not.  I have noticed of myself when I am with people with whom I do not feel safe, that I dim down.  I have sometimes thought to myself in astonishment:  "Where did I go?!", noticing that I am not really, fully there any more.  We could entertain that this is an out-of-body experience that accompanies post traumatic stress --- and we may not be wrong, as caregiving and all its ramifications is astonishingly stressful.  But, that it is not always helpful to label something.  Instead, I would suggest that we examine our motives and beliefs about being caregivers, that we have the courage to be really, really be honest with ourselves about our motives, and that we notice where and when we may not fully express the essence of who we are.  It may be that we are wise to hide our light in some situations and with some people, but it seems to me that it is important that this be choice and not reaction. 

No comments:

Post a Comment