An open letter to your sick sibling

My dear sibling, I write because there’s something I need to put square between us. You see, we share so much – genetics, parents, upbringing. Out of all the people in the world, I am most like you. However much we may differ in temperament and character, our blood binds us together.

To my sick sibling,

Illness will always be something between us,

Yet there’s one thing we do not share. You are sick and I am not. You struggle with your health and it will always be something you think about, whereas my life is not like that. You have doctors’ appointments and medication and a whole world into which I can never enter fully.

I wonder, sometimes, how this makes you feel. Do you ever feel guilty when you get attention, or when people tell you how brave you are? Do you ever feel jealous of me? Do you ever look at me and wish we could swap lives, swap bodies, swap trials?

Do you ever want to strangle me, because I can be carefree and you must be responsible? Or do you ever hate yourself because you look at me and feel weak and needy in comparison?

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When NOT to fight someone else’s battle (even if you want to)

Have you ever sailed into an argument or situation with all cannons blazing… only to realise later that you should have just let the matter drop?
Have you ever fought long and hard for someone else – and then wondered whether you’re actually doing the right thing?

I have to admit, I have a tendency to get caught up “in the moment”. With the adrenaline rushing through my veins, I find it only too easy to believe that my right is the only right and it needs to be defended at any cost.

Of course, this just gets more complicated when it’s not my own battle that I’m fighting.

As Watchers we are often called to fight on someone else’s behalf. But what if sometimes fighting is not the best course of action? What if sometimes the right thing is to step back and put down our arms?

How are we to know?

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Why you SHOULD fight someone else’s battle (when you’d rather not)

If you’re like me, there are times when you are ‘rearing to go’ when a disagreement comes up.

Someone needs you to stand up for them? Done. Need to make a complaint? Done.

Need to convince the well-meaning shop assistant to check out the back for more stock? Done.

And yet…

… Some days the last thing you want to do is rub against the grain. Instead you want to take the back seat, keep your head down and maintain the peace. You’d rather deal with the consequences later rather than speak up in the moment. 

There’s nothing wrong with this – except in the context of chronic illness sometimes the consequences aren’t ours to absorb.

As Watchers, caregivers and loving friends, sometimes we are called to fight our Loved One’s battles, not our own. When we give up, they are the ones who suffer for it.

So what do we do?

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O woe is me! (Watchers, we are not Victims)

“Oh look at all those other people with their lollipops and rainbows, skipping hand in hand in a luscious field of poppies. If only that was me. Instead here I am in my dark corner with my pet spider and my burden of responsibility.”

Which character would you be in a novel?

The hero?

The villain?

The love interest?

Some days it’s easy to feel like the victim. The character that gets smacked over the head with a tonne of Tragedy just so the hero can realise that yes, the world does need saving. I’d better find my cape…

You might not struggle with your health on the same level as your friend or family member with a chronic illness, but it can still feel like you’ve got the raw end of the deal.

After all, your life has been disrupted too! You have added responsibility, added financial strain, added demands on your time and energy. On top of all that you spend a lot of time in close quarters with someone who is unwell (and the truth is, unwell people aren’t always as much fun as ‘well’ ones – I personally turn into a monster when I have the flu).

When you feel overlooked and depleted it’s easy to imagine that your identity is not in being a Watcher, but rather a Victim (yes, with a capital V).

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Loving a sick person is too hard! (Watchers, we are not impartial observers)

I’ve been absent lately.

I’ve discovered that it’s quite difficult to type with a broken wrist!

I’m also settling in to what it looks like to be at home, loving someone going through chemotherapy.

It’s not easy. Patience and domestic duties have never been my strong points. Far from it actually. Some days I want to give it all up and become an “impartial observer”. It hurts much less when you fail and takes far less effort!

Nevertheless, God has called me to be a Watcher right now, so I pray and know He will equip me in all the ways necessary (and probably in a lot I’d like to pretend aren’t necessarily, like the ability to  ‘see’ what needs  to be done around the house or remember to pick up my own clothes from the floor).

ALSO an exciting piece of news: This is the 100th post on Called to Watch! Is there someone you know who might find this blog helpful? Take a moment to send them the link, or sign up for email updates!

Being a Watcher is hard, and instead of ‘really’ caring, it’s tempting to disengage emotionally. When this happens, we become “impartial observers”.

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Distraction – a good response to suffering?

Sometimes we simply want an escape from reality… but can distraction really be a good and valid response to suffering? I want to say… yes.

How I distract myself when tragedy strikes:

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself turning more and more to ‘distraction’. That’s why you haven’t heard much from me! By that I mean, I’ve re-ignited my passion for writing essays, for reading fiction and fan-fiction, and drawing.
In the past month or two I’ve…

Published:

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Watchers, we are not Experts in chronic illness

“Lights on, hours before dawn.

In pain someone rolls.

It’s not me, never me,

for whom the bell tolls.”

For me, there is something clarifying in forcing my emotions to submit to the demands of rhythm and rhyme.

Happy Thursday!

Obviously it’s been a while since I posted. Lately my thoughts have not been ordered enough to sit down and blog, the reason for this being that new health problems have arisen in the lives of my Loved Ones (and hence in my life).

And so, I’ve spent some time grieving, some time trying to figure out my response, and even more time wondering what the future will look like. As of yet, I don’t have any answers, and I’m not sure when ones will be forthcoming – but this I know: my God goes on before me.

In an attempt to process this new upheaval I spent some time writing poetry. I offer this as an explanation as to why I haven’t been writing here, but also because I thought perhaps sharing some stanzas might also serve as an explanation, and even an encouragement. Is there anyone else who turns to poetry in order to order their thoughts?

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Am I really a ‘Caregiver’? (and what does that mean?)

“Caregiver.”

For years I never considered that this label belonged to me. It seemed too formal, to restrictive, too…important for what I did to help my chronically ill mum.
Hugs and housework and understanding.

Surely those didn’t deserve such a label?

Yet when my younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour and I spent every other day at the hospital and I cared for her in many physical ways from feeding to advocating for her with the pain team, I still didn’t feel this label belonged to me.

But I also felt that I needed the help a label brings.

Without a label I did not have the words to share my story.

READ MORE….

am I really a caregiver 2 #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope

(today I’m posting over at Chronic-Joy.org).

am I really a caregiver 2 #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope

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We cannot be everything (We are Watchers, not…Master List)

This is a blog about ‘Watching’. That is, loving suffering people while not suffering yourself.
But what does that look like? It can (and does!) look like many things, but sometimes it’s helpful to look at what we are not.

Master List: Watchers, we are not…

Watchers, we are not… Doctors

We just want them cured – is that so wrong?

is it wrong to want your loved one cured www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Watchers, we are not… Biographers

If only we could decipher the ‘meaning’ behind their suffering!

How to write about chronic illness www.calledtowatch.com #holidays #reading #amreading #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching

Watchers, we are not… Saints

Of course we’re fine, after all, we’ve got this!

Are you always fine Watchers, we are not saints www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

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What if they don’t understand? (Watchers we are not delegates!)

How often have you stood ‘in the place’ of your ill Loved One?
Maybe you’ve attended an event,
answered a question,
or formed a relationship,
which they simply could not.

Delegates are people who represent someone else to a community. They go forth in their place and explain the other person’s views, character and position.

Sometimes it’s easier to see ourselves, not as Watchers of our Loved One, but as their delegate to the outside world.
Continue reading “What if they don’t understand? (Watchers we are not delegates!)”