This series Parent Caregivers 12 Step Program is adapting the “Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous” to caregiving. In last week’s post we discussed the difficulty of caregiving as a parent of a special needs child.
It was this desperate need for support that lead me to reading Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach. Last week’s article is also about a power greater than us.
This week we discuss making a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a power greater than us.
The authors of the book suggest using a journal to write down your thoughts, feelings, and observations as you move through the steps. You can pick up yours right here at reasonable pricing.
Turning Our Lives Over to a Power Greater Than Us
“Made a Decision to Turn Our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God as we Understand God.”
With all that is going on in caregiving, the idea that we can turn something over to someone else doesn’t even seem possible. <===== Tweet This
What if I forget how to do it? What if I do it wrong? What if I hurt the one I love? We are so caught up in the ‘doing’ of the caregiving that finding a way to let go seems impossible.
Therefore, finding a way to turn our lives over to the care of God seems just as crazy. The idea of letting go just isn’t part of our vocabulary, or at least it wasn’t part of mine. The whole idea of “Let go and let God” seems out of reach, but if we were able to get through Step 1 and Step 2, maybe we can give this a try as well.
The idea of letting go or surrendering can feel a little bit like we are giving up or that we are losing a battle or becoming passive. Yet, the intent here isn’t to give away power but to accept what is and go with the flow. Think for a minute about riding your bike. When you first started riding it you would shift the wrong way and fall down and you had trouble balancing it all. Yet, when you started to go with the flow of the bike you got stronger and faster when riding. Surrender is meant to be like that in this step.
An example of this in real life for us was when we were trying to get our daughter, who has an autism diagnosis, potty trained we started out with all these timings and this crazy schedule to try to get her to do her business where she needed to do it. We would get mad when she had an accident and we had to clean her and the bathroom up again. We were all miserable, not just because of the poor progress on the potty training, but because of the attitude we were all taking.
Once we let go of the idea that it she was being badly behaved and we kept trying to support her, but accepted she was on her own timely and would learn what she could learn when she could learn it, the house was much more peaceful. We are still trying to get potty training sorted out at age 7. However, our daughter no longer feels like we don’t like her and she is bad. ‘We had to let go of doing things our way and in our time.’ <====Tweet This
There are several ways to consider letting go as a new way of being. However, it is going to be hard. One of the the ways that we were able to let go actively was instead of yelling when yet another attempt to potty train went badly we would just repeat a prayer to ourselves. The serenity prayer is a good start:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It also helps to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to help physiologically calm yourself down as well. Repeat the prayer a time or two while you breathe. If nothing else, you have a few moments to let the heat of the moment and the frustration of the event flow by you so you can show up in a more effective way.
I found that I spend a lot of time breathing through some of the things that are difficult for me. I most often say the “Our Father prayer” because I have memorized it and I don’t have to learn something new in my crazy life right now. Yet, the idea of taking a moment to consider that what is happening really doesn’t matter that much. I can wash her, the walls, and the bathroom up but I cannot fix her self-esteem or her heart if I break it.
What works for you? Do you meditate? Do you say a prayer? What might you let go of that can help you accept the situation and let go?
Create a list of all the things that bothered you this month. Next to that list, put a check-mark next to each of the items that turned out alright. Finally, consider out of those items, which ones were worth worrying over.
What do you think of this step?
Did it bring up good or bad feelings for you?
What comes up for you here?
What works for you instead of worry?
Source: Loosely Adapted from “Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach” by Pat Samples, Diane Larsen, Marvin Larsen