THE DARK SIDE
When caring for others you learn a lot about yourself. You are sometimes forced to confront your dark side, the aspect of all of us that thinks terrible thought, like wishing it would all end and you could just walk away from all the problems. or you might find yourself wishing your loved one will just die and be done with it.
Sometimes we say things that we don’t mean when we’re tired, angry or feeling overwhelmed. These hurtful, mean words may just be frustration speaking.
When you find yourself dwelling on vicious or destructive thoughts, you meet your dark side and it is a frightening moment. You might wonder if you are going off the deep end? You wonder how you could think evil or unkind thoughts about someone you love? You can and you will.
You mull over your bleak thoughts and ask yourself the meaning of your pessimism and pain. It is you? Are you losing control? Maybe that’s it...you are losing control, control over your life, by adding another generation into your home. Someone has invaded your space, changed your lifestyle, taken away your freedom, and suddenly you have to rearrange your priorities and routines to accommodate them. Maybe all your plans for the future are either put on hold or cancelled. Control...maybe that’s the problem. Understanding the problem can make it so much easier to face.
But facing your dark side doesn’t take it away; you just learn to live with it. There were many times when I wished that my suffering would end. I was so tired and I couldn’t keep doing everything. I would get short with Mother and Wayne’s erratic behavior and it would bring me to tears. I wanted to scream or hit something or just run away and leave the mess for someone else.
I can certainly see why some people run away from home. They just can’t cope anymore and need to leave to be free from all the responsibility. I can also understand, to a small degree, how people can abuse someone they are caring for when stress is about to break them. Everyone feels close to breaking at sometime or another. But it is how we handle those difficult feelings that counts. Look for solutions. Talk it out, work it out, cook it out, write it out, but find your way to work through these dark feelings. You are not alone.
This is where a support group might help you. You could talk with people who are in the same situation that you are facing. There is nothing quite as nice as finding someone who will listen and understand what you are feeling, simply because they have had the same feeling sometime during their caregiving time. It is wonderful to know that you are not alone and that others have had the same dark thoughts that have been going through your mind. You are not crazy, even though sometimes you think you are.
Learn to understand your dark side and it will be easier to deal with. It will also help to have a friend with whom to discuss your feeling. I would have gone crazy without my friend...my journal...I wrote it every night.
While I am on the subject of the dark side and how it can lead to abuse, I think it is worthwhile to define what elder abuse is. According to the Senior News Network, elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment of an elderly person by a caregiver or relative. Not only physical abuse, but mental abuse as well. Victims generally do not report it, or afraid of reprisals if they speak up. These reasons are largely why elder abuse is one of the most under-recognized and under-reported problems in the United States. At greatest risk are the frail and isolated elderly.
The National Aging Resource Center of Elder Abuse estimates the incidence of abuse in domestic settings at approximately two million cases per year, although it is difficult to determine the exact scope of this hidden problem. Only one out of fourteen incidents actually comes to the attention of authorities.