Monday, December 17, 2012

Introspection: Finding Strength

As we get deeper into the progression of Dad's illness, and more and more of him slips away, I find myself judging people more harshly than I used to. I don't know if this is normal, part of some anger stage of grief, perhaps, but I find it disconcerting...and liberating.

Having grown up a hopeless people pleaser (the result of my upbringing, long story), I used to take a lot of crap from people. It was my nature to make excuses for those who disappointed me, or hurt me, or to blame myself for their bad behavior.  Through a lot of introspection and self-love over the years, though, I have managed to curb this tendency, and I have learned to stand up for myself when I need to. My mantra these last few years has been, "Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes." (Thank you, Brene Brown!)

Dad's Alzheimer's (and before that, Mom's vascular dementia) has certainly put me to the test. If I had known years ago the amount of "standing up" I'd have to do on behalf of my aging parents, I probably would have fainted on the spot.  But each time you do it, it gets easier. And when you are fighting on behalf of a loved one, you find strength you never knew you had.

I also find, though, that I have a low tolerance now for people who aren't genuine, who don't deliver, who "talk the talk" but definitely don't "walk the walk." I have learned to judge people by their actions, not their words, for words are often empty and spoken without much thought. Many people will say, "I wish there were something I could do." Very few will actually show up on the doorstep to do it.

I still let my guard down and get hurt, sometimes even by well-intentioned people.  But I've learned to shrug it off, mostly. It may take a few hours, or even a few days, lol, but I can work through it. Because there are more important things in life to spend my time on.

Like my father, who is dying from Alzheimer's.

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Thank you for sharing this journey with us.