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Confessions of a Retired Caregiver

Confessions of a Retired Caregiver

When people (women in my experience), undergo the emotional rigor of relationships, I’ve learned it is either meant to grow you or  reveal what’s within you. What’s ultimately revealed is not always related to our capacity to love, and the ways in which we grow,  don’t always have to do with you are in a partnership. Essentially, romantic relationships can catalyze self-discovery. I’ve found that in  relationships that I’ve had (some may call them entanglements…is that old now?), the men who were there for longer than they should have been, revealed so much more to me about myself upon letting them go. Which led me to the conclusion that I have  never actually been in a relationship truly rooted in the growth of two people.

In my case, the growth came for the guy, while the big reveal at the end was for me. You know how that feels? Somewhere in between stubbing your pinky toe (when the nail is already  barely hanging on as it is) and being thrown a surprise party you never asked (nor did anyone tell you to get dressed for…could the decoy at least have been dinner?). Now, I will preface this by saying, I don’t think one is worse than the other. When you uncover more layers to your identity, it does ignite growth, if you let it. However, the ultimate goal – for me, is to be in a relationship where  God, acceptance of one another, and growth are at the root.  

That brings me to the title of this article.  

As a woman who is proudly a Virgo (I mean..Beyonce – need I say more?), I am an empath much to my detriment, at times.  Regardless of Zodiac sign, this is a relatable concept. We can truly be so invested in people, and want to see them do well, that we convince ourselves that aiding in their growth is truly filling us up. While we all want to see those we care about in better places in our lives, we must also recognize the depletion that occurs at times because of it.

At no fault of our own, we’ve accepted the role of  caregiver to a man who has no intentions of loving us beyond the place he’d like to keep us in his life. In my case, pouring into others  is truly my love language – in all relationships, and friendships alike. Inadvertently, I believed assuming the role of caregiver (which  wasn’t hard for me to do), was going to show him how much of a catch I really was. I was quietly suffering because it never went  beyond that. But as I mentioned previously, I convinced myself that being there for him wasn’t emptying my cup, but actually  ensuring that he would eventually come to, and fill me as well.

  It all came to head when I was asked the question, “Is it difficult to be his friend?”. That was a toughie. On one hand, I really enjoyed  his presence, wit, humor, and the time we spent together, genuinely. On the other hand, our relationship was where hot and cold met. Fire and Ice. He was rubber and I was glue. It was known that I was the empath, and teaching him how to be more attuned to  his sensitive side, as well as seeing him through his battles with family, work, and even his relationships with women. (This stopped  after a while, as my true feelings had become known.) He always expressed how important I was to him and how he felt even that we  had soul ties. But, what was a connection to him was starting to feel like an anchor to me. An anchor in your soul? That sounds like it  hurt hurt. Well, it did. My answer to that question ended up being, yes. So, what was I going to do with it?  

Never did I say at the beginning of this that we weren’t friends…I just said I wasn’t his caregiver… 

Nah, we not friends.  

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At one point, I realized that all of what I had been pouring into him, was time not spent pouring into myself. It’s a concept that we  hear often, but usually have to experience to act on. My goal in writing this was to help other women learn how to place their relationships and friendships in the right spaces that allow room for personal growth. 

I truly believe that it is possible, and I’ve seen it happen, where two people can enter into a marriage or romantic relationship, and it be a mutual partnership of growth, both individually and collectively. Pouring into your  partner is a beautiful thing. On the other side, being his “keeper” outside of this union can be dangerous, as he’s not operating from  the same space. Maybe he thinks he is, but if he refuses to commit, 9/10 he isn’t. Thus, ask yourself, what do I want in a friendship with men? What do I want in a relationship? Think critically beyond the “makes me laugh” and “he can hold a conversation”.  

The differences between your relationships and your friendships are where your boundaries lie. Being cognizant of these boundaries  allows you to protect your inner soul from being shared too quickly with someone who hasn’t committed to loving it, understanding  it, honoring it, and ultimately pouring into it. Naturally, your soul is going to want to pour out, give, and feel that of another soul. But  it is your brain, that must stop your heart from giving just anyone the key. It is also your heart that must commit to giving yourself that key, FIRST.

For those who are confused on what pouring into yourself looks like…how did you pour into others? It may be that simple. Did you go to lengths to understand their childhood and possibly the traumas that came with it? Have you encouraged them  to go to therapy? Did you take risks or adventures with them? Did you push them beyond their comfort zone? Did you challenge  them to see beyond their situation? Did you help them figure out ways to reach their goals? Did you wake up in the middle of the  night, just so you could honor their feelings and emotions and work or talk it through with them?…Have you replaced “them” with “you” yet?  

You shouldn’t feel stupid, naive, or gullible in any way. In fact, you should feel grateful that you had a first-hand lesson on boundaries,  before you met the one. Why? It will help pace the relationship and empower you to be vocal once you feel yourselves approaching  your boundary lines.

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