You’ve decided to have your loved one attend your holiday get-together. You’re feeling the stress and uncertainty as you look at everything that needs to be done, and the responsibilities for his/her care delegation. Can you live with the possibility that you’re not the one handling or managing everything? Can you actually sit back, relax and enjoy the festivities?
This is a very challenging time for your family. It is very difficult to watch your loved one’s abilities decline, and the fact that some of their less-than-loving behaviors may have become more exaggerated. It’s also problematic when every family member experiences the changes differently, or not at all. It’s important to lay out out all of the options associated with your loved one attending the get-together with all family members who will be in attendance and who could play a role in making the holiday gathering more manageable and even enjoyable.
If you are the primary caregiver and you are going to be laying out tasks and options, you must first be clear on your desired outcome. A desired outcome has to be what you want, and it has to be something over which you have control. If you really want to attend an event free of responsibility, then that is the statement you need to make, as difficult as it may be to admit it to others.
If you are afraid or concerned about someone else’s response to your desired outcome, stop and ask yourself: Is my desired outcome stronger than my fear of their reactions? If the answer is no, that’s something to get clear about for yourself, because it’s probably affecting your quality of life more than you realize. You may want to explore where your difficulty in taking a stand for your own boundaries originated, and how you can get better at strengthening them. It’s helpful to have someone you trust, support you when doing your internal inquiry, since they will pick up on themes and perhaps inconsistencies that you may not be able to see right away.
Once you’ve mapped out all the possible options so that your loved one can attend your holiday festivities, you will also want to point out the specific tasks someone else will need to do with each option, since you may be the only one who knows those details. Once your siblings choose an option, ask them to let you know who will be responsible for each task, so everyone is clear in advance as to who has volunteered to step up and provide that part of your loved one’s care.
When you say that you want to relax and enjoy yourself at the holiday gathering, the ball is in your other family members’ court. If they come up with an arrangement that they can all deal with and accept, it doesn’t have to be one of your options – it just needs to cover all the tasks you’ve outlined. You can give your siblings the message that you trust them to work out a plan that will suit them and your loved one the best.
Be sure to thank your family members for taking charge that day. Let them know you appreciate it!
You will feel discomfort initially in making this new decision. Acknowledge to yourself in advance that while there is discomfort in the status quo, there will be discomfort in the new decision as well, but now you get to decide which discomfort you are willing to live with.
Be sure to Breathe through the feelings that come up within you when you commit to a different plan from the one everyone is used to, and remember, it’s not your feelings that get you into trouble, it’s your actions.
All that really matters, when all is said and done, is that you live with this new decision.
It’s time to focus on new ways to build on creating your desired outcome so that you can take as good care of yourself as you do of those you love. You can Take Back Your Life!
And we breathe…