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.
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.
“I’ve got this.”
“Honestly, it’s fine, I promise.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are only a Watcher, and instead begin to think that we are (or should be) a “saint”.
This is what it looks like:
Watchers, we are not saints
…. feel guilty all the time. I’m not a good Watcher. Not even passable. Why can’t I do anything right?
… gloss over your hardships and sacrifices. Oh I don’t do much, not at all. Yes I spent all day driving my loved one to appointments in the rain, but that doesn’t matter. It was nothing!
… never share your problems. I’m going fine. One’s got to do what they’ve got to do! Other people have it worse, after all.
Most of us know someone who struggles with their health. Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with a physical chronic illness, or they struggle daily with their mental health. As their friend, we seek to love and serve them in their suffering.
But how often do we remember their children?
What about the children with chronically ill parents?
When I was little I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor. Not because I had an undying desire to see sick people healed, but because there was one ill person I wanted to cure. I longed to take away my mum’s pain with a single flick of a pen on a prescription pad.
While my career aspirations soon headed off down a different track, I think this desire is something we can all sympathise with. To some extent it never does away.
As care-givers and support-bearers and Watchers we would love to see our Loved Ones healed. Yet it can become dangerous when this simple desire begins to morph into something subtly different: a belief that it is our responsibility to cure them.
When this happens we swap our role as a Watcher for that of a “doctor”.
Watchers we are not… doctors
Do you ever feel the need to cure your chronically ill loved one?
Have you accidentally become a “doctor”? Do you ever:
Feel your goal in the relationship is to bring healing?
Spend time collecting remedies (via Google, word of mouth etc) and offering them to your Loved One?
Feel better when you can diagnose the cause of your Loved One’s distress that day. Does being able to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and use the appropriate words to describe and understand it, reassure you?
Feel like a failure when you are unable to reduce your Loved One’s suffering, or bring them relief?
“Watchers, we are not doctors. We have a higher calling.” Tweet @calledtowatch