Sunday, January 28, 2018

Caretakers as Martyrs

In my last blog post I said that I would write about a problem I myself have done and am witnessing more and more as of late, that of the caretaker martyr.

What exactly is a caretaker martyr? There are many of us that are natural born caretakers. We help all that ask or need it in anyway we can or those closest to us. With healthy boundaries and a sense of self this type of care taking is usually not a problem. The problem arises when the caretaker is giving away more and more of themselves without receiving enough care back on a regular basis.

The biggest problem with this kind of care taking is to the caretaker themselves. With giving more than receiving the caretaker starts to suffer and consistently sacrifices their mental and emotional health. This can lead to feelings of emptiness, frustration, depression, anxiety, just to name a few. The caretaker starts to fade until there is nothing left for anyone to take. It can lead to the caretaker feeling as if they don’t deserve the same care and are meant to suffer alone through life.

While the above is a very painful journey for the caretaker and the main concern there is another side to this issue as well. When we martyr ourselves to care for others we are not only causing us determent, but we are actually causing determent to those that we are trying so hard to take care of as well. How is this possible?

In this martyr context while trying to support, protect and take care of others we are stopping their own growth. They are not moving on the life path that they are meant to move down. They are not learning the life lessons that they are supposed to be learning. And honestly it is stopping our own growth and happiness as well. Depending on circumstances and the role of the other person in the relationship we may also be stopping them from finding not only themselves but someone who will love them fully.

So how do we determine if we or someone we know are a caretaker martyr? First and most importantly, do you feel you are giving to others more than you yourself are receiving on a constant basis? Are those you are taking care of not advancing in their life path? *i.e. having the same problem over and over, not changing detrimental behaviors, have addiction issues they refuse to acknowledge, etc*. Do you resonate with the words of this blog post? Do you feel that you don’t have someone that supports, listens to, and gives to you among those you take care of? Because of how much you give are you having more problems with depression, helplessness, anxiety, emptiness, feeling like there is nothing else and this is your lot in life?  Then chances are that yes you are a caretaker martyr!

So, if this is you how do you fix it? That is one of the hardest answers and no one answer fits everyone. Anyone who says that is the case you need to get away from immediately 😉. The first step is to examine the situation and those involved. Is this a child? A spouse? A family member? What affect is it having on each person? The next step is to determine the action that needs to be taken.

One resolution could be that better boundaries need to be drawn by the caretaker. They need to pull back in how much they do for the other and express that they are not receiving the care and love they need and honestly deserve back. Another solution is to step away from the person and say enough is enough. While this is one of the hardest steps to take, sometimes it is the needed action to allow for all parties involved to move forward.

I am not saying run out and cut off all those you take care of to save yourself. There are many in between solutions as well. You must make the decision as to which solution works for you and those involved and then make it happen. What I am saying is stop being a martyr!! Taking care of others is fine but when you give more than you receive that is not okay and is not living. I don’t say this with just observation but as one who was guilty of doing the same thing. And what I have learned is it was not loving those I was taking care of, it was not protection. It was death of soul for all involved and definitely death of soul for me.

I leave you with this quote that always resonates with me when thinking of this subject:

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. 
~ Norman Cousins

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Spiritual Awakening vs Soul Awakening

I thought to start this blog it would be beneficial to discuss the difference between a Spiritual Awakening and a Soul Awakening. In the last 6 months, I have read so much about "awakening" but I feel there is one common misconception. "awakening" isn't just about spiritual awakening. There is also a soul awakening!
No matter where you look currently on the internet you can find article after article on Spiritual Awakening. This particular awakening is when one starts to question their religion or spirituality and seek answers. These answers could lead to a change in beliefs, religions or rituals associated with a religion or belief system. This mostly affects only a part of our life with very little bleed over into other parts of our lives such as relationships, jobs and so on.
However, a Soul Awakening can affect every part of one’s life. Relationships, Job, Religion and Spirituality, EVERY aspect of your life. This can happen one of two ways. The first is that we come gently into our awakening on our own. We start to realize that we are not happy in our current lives that something feels like it is missing. We start searching for what it is that we are missing, why we aren’t happy in our current lives. We look to change things, embrace change and expand. We quit jobs that drain us, end relationships that are toxic and don’t make us happy, we move to a new place that offers more of what our soul needs, we search out answers to our spirituality. One or all of these things can happen.

Sometimes our darkest nights can be the beginning to our brightest days.

Then there is the not so gentle way to a soul awakening. The universe, God, Goddess, whatever your beliefs, are no longer allowing us to be stuck. To live in our familiar routines that make us unhappy. To no longer say "I made my bed and now I have to lie in it". To no longer believe we are who we have convinced ourselves we are.
So many of us are being forced to wake up (or as I like to say "pushed out of a plane without a parachute") and see that there is more! More than toxic jobs, toxic relationships, depression, hating ourselves.
We are asked (not so gently) or TOLD to find our truth and above all to find our happiness! To see that even though we have made choices that we have other choices we can make and be better for it. To be free, to let our true selves shine! This can come in the form of being fired from that toxic job, a partner deciding they cannot be in the relationship anymore, crisis in faith and beliefs, trouble with family.
You now find yourself on this path that you didn’t see coming and you are asked to step up and step out and find you.
I say these words having gone the harder path. I was pushed out of that plane without a parachute. Told to fly or die. I lost a toxic job and a toxic relationship all within a month of each other. I was asked to step up and find myself. To stop staying in situations that were bad for me because I have the need to take care of others. I was stopping myself from learning lessons that I needed as well as stopping those I stayed with to learn the lessons they need to learn. Martyr syndrome (a blog for another day lol). In the last 9 months, I have come far in my journey and it definitely has not been an easy one. But every day I see change and growth and, believe it or not, happiness. Though I still struggle with some things, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. No life is not perfect, nor am I and never will be as we are human after all, but I strive now to live and not just be. I strive to work on my past, learn the lessons that I was and am meant to learn and to move forward. To find and do the things that make me happy. To never again live with what if’s. I am pursuing a career that I love and allows me to help others without falling into Martyr syndrome and will help me to reach my life goals. I am growing as a person, a mother, a partner, a friend and an artist. Had I had the courage and insight I would have chosen this path for myself instead of being thrown out of the plane. For it is the best thing that has happened to me. For once in my life I know who I am.
While this is not an easy journey for anyone to experience there is light and love on the other side. Be brave! Don't let fear, your past or who you have convinced yourself you are hold you back from making hard decisions that will only make your life better in the end.