Losing Myself in Caregiving

Amy Goyer felt she was losing her identity while caregiving but found it was actually helping her identity evolve.
Caregiving can be all-consuming, but it has helped me grow.

After I moved across the country to care for my parents, more than five years ago, I put my heart and soul — to say nothing of my energy and time — into my role as a caregiver.

As many of you know, it’s an all-consuming responsibility, one that can soon overwhelm your sense of self. For me, I felt my identity slipping away. I feared I’d lost myself in caregiving.

So I thought about who I really am and why I felt part of me was missing. I realized I had less time for work, yoga, walking, reading, singing, concerts, theater, gardening, going to the movies and  traveling, but I also realized those things aren’t who I am — they are things I do.

Even so, I know it’s important that I maintain a connection with those areas of my life. I need to take care of my physical and emotional needs and continue to do things that bring me joy. But who I am is more about creativity, kindness, compassion, humor, joy, adventure, love and being of service. And aren’t these the things that are truly manifested the most in caring for others?

>> Get discounts on health services with your AARP Member Advantages.

I now know that I’m not really losing my identity. In fact, my identity is actually evolving because of my role as a caregiver.

As I go through this life creating who I am, my life is not on hold during this intense caregiving phase. This is my life right now, and it’s part of my growth as a person. But it is also an opportunity to learn to live  mindfully — being in the moment, accepting it without judgment, and keeping my mind from racing ahead or dwelling in the past.

So I strive to stop fighting the change and stop focusing on missing the things I used to do. Instead, as strange as it may seem given the sacrifices I’m making, I focus on being grateful for the gift of caregiving.

Also of Interest

 

See the  AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 06, 2015 09:00 AM
Now, in the thick of the holiday season, many of us who are family caregivers are facing even more stress than usual, with relatives' visits and extra items on our to-do lists. That makes this a perfect time for us to connect with our fellow caregivers for support and advice. While we can't all gather in-person, of course, Caregiving.com came up with something much easier: a virtual  Holiday Progressive Blog Party, and I’m thrilled to participate. Visit the site to find links to a range of caregiving blogs and — if you blog, too — share information about your own.
November 19, 2015 10:09 AM
Thanksgiving is approaching and families across the nation will be gathering to eat, maybe watch TV and, I hope, enjoy time together. But one of the most common questions I get this time of year is, “How can I get the generations in our family to interact more?” This year I have a great answer: Participate in StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen using its new free app.
November 12, 2015 09:27 AM
I’m excited about AARP's current  caregiving awareness campaign, to recognize and support America’s 40 million family caregivers. The campaign coincides with November’s National Family Caregivers Month.