Things in Erin’s Head
It’s time for me to confess. The people really should know. It isn’t as though I was *hiding* it, per se… I really just learned it myself. So I have to tell them the story, so maybe they can see it too…
This past week, at the end of 2022, I saw someone dear to me who I haven’t seen in quite some time. In fact, we both strained our brains trying to remember our last visit as we strolled down the sidewalk in the perfect Florida winter air (ahh, THIS is why I live here!). We pieced it back to a flash in time – mere moments, sometime between five and seven years ago.
They asked what I’ve been up to, “Oh, massage stuff, book stuff…” I let the thought trail off. (Sometimes I still get shy about being a best selling author).
“Oh that’s right, your BOOK!” they were excited and it made me smile, “I read it, and it was really good.”
“You read it?” I kind of semi-squealed with surprise and delight, and they looked at me like they were literally watching marbles roll out of my ears.
“Of course I did,” and we both turned our eyes down toward the sidewalk as we crossed the street.
“Thank you,” I toned the squeal down several octaves to access my real voice, a tone of true sincerity, laced with vulnerability, “I really don’t know. I don’t know who has bought it [Amazon doesn’t give us that data] and even if people bought it I don’t know if they have *read* it.”
My companion got quiet for a moment. This is how I recall their next words,
“We lived through a lot of that, through your mom… There was a lot in there.
And [my son].
And my mom.”
Yes, I feel like I may have left words out… but at the same time maybe not… because I knew what they were talking about. I didn’t know all of the details of their journeys, but I could imagine the depths of the caregiving roles this person had undertaken, repeatedly. I also knew that for them, their stories didn’t end in miracles as mine had. Repeatedly.
And it was in this moment that I had both an epiphany and a hope.
The epiphany is my confession to you, dear reader. Here is the truth: I was not healed from the trauma of caregiving when I wrote my book (even now I cannot claim to be 100% healed). I chose to put out for the world, my rawest, most embarrassing, tender, vulnerable moments. I told you all the ridiculous stories you can’t help but laugh at. I chose to share from my most authentic space so other Caregivers like me – the ones who feel isolated, like they can take it all on themselves, who don’t want to burden anyone with their tears, who feel guilt and shame over their anger, could know deep in their bellies that they are not alone.
And I choose to relive it over, and over, and over again.
If I tried to write that book today, I don’t know that I could find the words. Time has passed. Healing has happened. Scabs have formed. But I know each time I recall a story, the feelings churn in me like a milkshake in a blender, at first a little clumpy and icy, but the flavors meld into something creamy and soothing. And the ability to help others heal, to help soften their caregiving journey, well that turns into the sweet cherry on top.
I could feel this epiphany gently take my hand and lead me down the path to my New Hope (did the Star Wars theme kick on in anyone else’s brain?). What if my book could help people who have already walked this walk?
The comments I have received about my book, from anyone who has lived the caregiving journey, has followed a consistent theme:
“You nailed it.”
“I wish I had this when…”
“It reminded me of the time when [my husband / child / parent]… and I had to put it down a minute – but then had to pick it up again… you really got it right.”
That beautiful December night, I heard the softness, tenderness, and perhaps a fleck of crackle in the voice of my companion. It gave me the hope that my book – the one that talks about all the things Caregivers never talk about – will help Caregivers heal.
The Caregivers whose journey has ended.
Some with a miracle, but many without. I hope it helps them resolve the feelings they had that were never fully felt. The ones that may feel like a scab being ripped off to ooze, but hopefully will heal over more smoothly this time. I hope my book can show them how much they are loved.
Because it’s all about love
If you read my book, “Welcome to Caregiving: The Things Caregivers Never Talk About,” thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
If you’ve lived the caregiving journey, I’m opening my heart to you – and my email inbox. I welcome you to share your story with me – as therapeutic outlet for you. I’m not a therapist, I’m not a medical professional, but I SEE you. I also invite you to tell me if I missed anything, or how it was DIFFERENT for you… I’m not here to tell anyone HOW to be a Caregiver – I’m here to help soften the journey. My way was only one way. There is no right way, there is no wrong way, there’s only love.
If you’d like to hear me tell my story in my very own voice, the audiobook version of “Welcome to Caregiving” is available to you (personally, I think my real live giggles and tears gives it a little extra oomph). Click the image above to enjoy a short excerpt.