The Internal Makeover You’ll Never See on Television

2016 May 25

Throughout our lives, we are sustained by beliefs that are left unquestioned.  They simply are.  These taken-for-granted beliefs can’t help but become mistaken for enduring truths that we use to guide our priorities and relationships and choices . . .

Push through, work harder, and do more, because it will lead to something better.

Follow opportunities wherever they may be and whomever they may take you away from.

Make yourself valuable by specializing.

Let passion guide you.

Possibilities are endless.

There is always tomorrow.

Be available to others, all the time. 

I can’t now—I have a meeting.

Caring for someone changes us.  It isn’t just something we give.  It takes something from us too—our taken for granted beliefs.  They are stolen from us but no one seems to notice that they are gone.  We can’t help but become disoriented as the beliefs that had once guided us now appear jagged and dangerous, requiring us to question and even walk away from what we used to hold to be true . . .

Push through, work harder, and do more, because it will lead to something better—I’m done pushing though today if that means just crossing something off my list.  Caring is harder than anything I’ve ever done.  Caring more won’t make my loved one better even though I wish it would.

Always follow leads and opportunitieswhy do leads and opportunities always have to be far away? Why can’t this relationship be my opportunity? And lead to what? I’m satisfied with what’s before me.

Specialize—how is that even possible?  My specialty has a name and a face.  And he doesn’t only need part of me, he needs all of me.

Let passion guide me—why is passion always about work? Isn’t caring for someone I love a type of passion, even if it doesn’t impress others?

Possibilities are endless—no they’re not.  I recognize my limitations and I know the person in front of me isn’t a possibility.  She’s real.

There is always tomorrow—my experiences tell me otherwise.  Now is what matters most.  Now is where I want to be.  Today is the only thing I know to be true.

Be available to others, all the time —I can’t anymore.  I don’t want to be ‘on’ for everyone anymore because that means I can’t be present for the people who need me the most. The people I need most.

I can’t now, I have a meeting—I’m going to be here for you now. This—you—are important.  Nothing else is more important than you.

We change our beliefs when what we hold to be true no longer fits what we are experiencing. The problem is that our care transformation isn’t noticeable.  It isn’t like a before and after reality television show where you can easily see the transformation by comparing what we look like now to what we used to look like.  There are no big reveal moments when it comes to belief transformations.  No, internal makeovers are searing and silent. They reveal themselves slowly, and tentatively, not on stage, but in everyday conversations that are often met with disbelief rather than adoration.

“Are you okay? Seriously, you’re not acting like yourself.”

Care, deep care for another, can’t help but transform us.  Care inevitably infiltrates every part of us from our eyesight to our mindset.  It sets itself upon us in ways that begins to remake what we once took for granted and believed to be true. We didn’t seek to transform our lives—transformation came to us because we dared to care.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Teresa H permalink
    May 25, 2016

    Wow, Dr. White, I read this and just kept nodding with each and every point. It truly is amazing that the things we once valued, all of a sudden seem so unimportant when the limited time we have with our loved one(s) is front and center.

    Thank you so much for your tremendous insight and having the ability to express it in such a non academia way!

  2. May 25, 2016

    This is so wise and so timely for me, thank you! I have been reflecting a lot lately on how caring transforms us. Does it always make us better people? Does it need to in order to justify its worth or the worth of those we care for? Certainly it creates opportunities for deep self-awareness and what it means to be in a relationship with another. I’m pondering this.

  3. May 26, 2016

    Thanks so much for the comments, Donna. Such important questions you ask. I absolutely believe we are just beginning to understand what and how care affects us and our relationships with others.

  4. May 26, 2016

    Thank you for the kind words, Teresa. It moves me to know that what I write speaks to you. You continue to inspire me.

  5. Suzy Drummond permalink
    May 31, 2016

    Thank you for really understanding and letting us find pride and joy and caregiving. It is far harder than any day at work and my job is being a nurse. I have worn out my friends and myself but the one I love still has needs. Just a few kind words and thoughts really ease the pain.

  6. June 1, 2016

    Thanks so much for your kind words. They mean so much given your experiences. Your perspective is truly valued.

  7. June 1, 2016

    You words went straight to my heart. I have changed so much since my son’s traumatic brain injury two years ago and it is so hard to explain to those who knew me before. You explained it so eloquently and so much better than my attempts to tell them. Thank you.

  8. June 1, 2016

    Thank you for your comments. They are deeply appreciated. So glad you are a part of the Unprepared Caregiver community.

  9. Katharine Oehmann permalink
    June 3, 2016

    You have touched my heart.

  10. June 3, 2016

    Thank you for your kind words, Katharine. Glad you found the Unprepared Caregiver.

  11. Amy Derck permalink
    June 19, 2016

    Just found this website and felt relieved that you have put into words what I have experienced and felt yet was unable to describe. Thank you. I am going on 11 years as a caregiver for my husband with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable but treatable blood cancer with lots of fallout from the disease itself and also from the ongoing series of therapies to keep it in check. I retired last year from an intense 8+ hour a day job as I could no longer work at my job and work at my caregiving job and do either to the best of my ability as I am in my mid sixties. Even though people I know well and they know the struggle my husband and I have gone through these past 10 years, they still asked me in an excited voice when I retired, “What are you going to do? Travel? Do you have trips planned?” It was then that I realized how much they don’t understand and how much I have changed or been changed by my husband’s disease and the care required that I have been giving. They don’t understand that retiring from my professional paying job doesn’t mean I am free to pursue a life of fun, travel, new experiences, and what we had dreamed of for retirement. It means working only one full-time job caring for my husband and not being exhausted at the end of the week. It means planning a short trip to see the grandchildren a few hours away around chemo treatments, sudden illness, sudden port infections that require emergency surgery, risk of being exposed to minor illnesses that can develop into dangerous illnesses for my immune compromised husband. It means loading and unloading special chairs and handicap items so he can sit and feel comfortable. It means paying the highest rate for lodging because we cannot guarantee rates as we do not know for sure we will will be able to make the trip. And it means that after all the planning and looking forward to getting out of the house to see our grandchildren, there may be the unexpected cancer thing to happen and we have to cancel. It has taken many years to learn to accept those disappointments. I am fortunate we were in a financial position for me to retire so we can enjoy our time together and plan a life at home around cancer illness events and share whatever time we have left. I am realizing now how much I have changed. And again, thank you for your website and putting into words the understanding of caregiving life.

  12. June 20, 2016

    Thanks so much for your comments. Please know that your experiences are truly inspirational. I am so moved that what I write speaks to you experiences in authentic ways. Thank you for inspiring me and for your ongoing efforts. I’m so glad you found the Unprepared Caregiver.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS