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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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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The problem with chronic illness and social media

Sharing about chronic illness on social media: It’s difficult.
Particularly when you are only watching someone else’s battle.

That I believe this might come as a surprise, due to the slight fact that this website is full of articles!

Not to mention, I have associated facebook pages, groups, pinterest, google plus and twitter accounts! That’s a lot of social media.

Yet each time I share about the place of chronic illness in my life (as someone who has sick family members, but is not ill myself), I struggle.

It’s a hard topic to think and talk about – let alone share online with everyone and anyone!

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How to love our Wider Watchers

It’s easy, for us Watchers, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers.

To overlook the lives of those Wider Watchers – our friends, our relations, our own other loved ones, who watch us as we Watch our suffering Loved Ones, is not right.

How do we love our Wider Watchers (and why do we need a post on this?)

Surely, if we all just act like civilised human beings, there’s no need for a specific address on how to ‘love’ those who are not watching as we are.

On one hand that’s true, and on another it’s not. You see, Watching means that we are used to having the pain of one person impact our life. We are used to focusing inward, towards them. We know what it is like to relate to people who are suffering.

And we might, in the process, discover we have a lot less patience for those who are not.

This, my friends, is somewhat natural.

It is also a problem.

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Who are our ‘Wider Watchers’?

We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness.

We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.
But what about those who fit into neither category?

What about all the rest?

What about those who do not battle chronic pain, yet do not do life closely with those who do?

Do we need to address them?

Do they have a place on this blog?

Is their interaction with sickness and pain even slightly comparable to our own?

What if… they are us?
Continue reading “Who are our ‘Wider Watchers’?”

Long distance Watching (Part 2)

It’s difficult to care as much about something when you’re not confronted with it every day.
We are often more distressed about our 3 year old’s tantrum than a war in a 3rd world country. What we see and experience affects us.

Watching from a distance feels less ‘real’

What we experience personally seems more real, not only because we are a firsthand witness but because it actually disrupts our life.

Thus, it is more difficult to Watch when we do not see our Loved One regularly. It is genuinely hard to place as much importance on their struggles.

Not because our love is less, but because it makes up less of our day.

What should we do?

Continue reading “Long distance Watching (Part 2)”

Wait! I feel guilty.

They are sick and I am not.
I can leave the house. They cannot.
I can eat anything I want. They must not.

Guilt is an emotion that it is easy to struggle with after a diagnosis of chronic illness.

When we as Watchers see how the illness is impacting our Loved One’s lives, and envision how it will continue to impact their lives,… the guilt creeps in.

Why do we feel guilty?

  1. We enjoy

When we are out partying or simply enjoying a day at the beach we feel guilty because our Loved One can’t be there with us.

Or perhaps they can – but they are exhausted and have to sit down and miss out on the fun. Maybe they have a health problem they need to worry about, and the experience, enjoyable for us, is isolating for them.

We receive what they do not – and so we feel guilty. Days out become a guilty pleasure. It seems wrong to arrive home to our Loved One or visit them, and recount the fun we had with our healthy body and mind.

Yet guilt is not just about imbalance. For instance, if instead of being painful, lonely and debilitating, chronic illness was like winning the lottery, I don’t think we would feel guilty.

I think we’d feel jealous.

Instead, chronic illness is awful, and so we feel guilty. Their life has been ruined. It is restrictive, it is pain filled. They will climb mountains and descend into valleys which we will never tread.

Likewise, we will enjoy delights that they never will.

Our close relationship with our Loved One means we can’t forget or ignore these imbalances.

After all there are thousands of people in slavery across the world and on the whole we do not spend our hours feeling guilty about our own freedom.

Continue reading “Wait! I feel guilty.”

Watching changes nothing

It is a blunt title, and yet… it’s true.

‘Being there’ for someone else changes nothing

Nil. Zero. Nought.

That, my friends, is the reality.

As Watchers, we are not needed. We cannot actually do anything. Life goes on and we Watch, and nothing changes.

If there was a list entitled ‘how to change the world’, Watching wouldn’t be on there.

Try as we might, we cannot fix the situation.

We can’t heal our Loved Ones. We can’t be their knight in shining armour and swoop down onto the battle field and sweep them off their feet and carry them to safety.
Continue reading “Watching changes nothing”