As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, resentment can become an overwhelmingly familiar feeling. We resent friends and family who seem to have disappeared from our lives at a time when we needed them the most. We resent them for not helping out or stepping up to do their part to take care of the person afflicted with Alzheimer’s. We are drowning in our problems and our role as caregivers, yet no one is there to throw us a lifeline. They see what we are going through, but they aren’t inclined to offer help. We also begin to resent people who are not going through what we are going through. We see friends, family, and neighbors enjoying their lives, having successful careers, raising their families, and taking Instagram-worthy vacations. It’s hard not to be bitter and think to yourself, “Must be nice!”
Personally, I think that these are all normal thoughts and feelings to have. If a caregiver told me that she never felt that way, I wouldn’t believe her. It’s only natural. It doesn’t make you a bad person. We have given up our lives to take care of someone we love. Why hasn’t everyone else done the same? Why haven’t our other family members stepped up? Why aren’t they doing enough?
Maybe they don’t have the same heart as us. Maybe they just don’t care as much as we do. They see what is going on and they care, but just not enough to give up their lives to do something about it. They are too wrapped up in their own little worlds. They are going to work, spending time with their families, having a social life, and taking care of their own households. Maybe they don’t see what we’re going through. Maybe they’re just too busy with their own lives. Maybe they have no idea what it’s really like to be an Alzheimer’s caregiver. Or, maybe they are dealing with their own hardships. Not everyone’s life is touched by Alzheimer’s, but everyone has their own shit to go through. People deal with other diseases, miscarriages, infant loss, job loss, divorce, addiction, depression, you name it. Everyone goes through some shit in their lives. Maybe they’re going through it now or maybe they’ve already been through it and they’re trying to get back on their feet. Or, maybe it hasn’t even happened to them yet, but it will.
My point is that it is easy for us to assume that our friends or family members aren’t helping out because they just don’t care, but it could be any number of things. You might not know for sure why a family member isn’t doing enough. If it bothers you that much, then you should talk to them about it. Explain to them how you are feeling and that you could really use their help. They might be surprised to hear how difficult and unmanageable your life has become. Maybe they have no idea. Maybe they’ll offer to help out more. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Other times, they might not even give a shit. They will offer words of comfort and then go about their merry way. Let them.
As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you are dealing with enough drama and negativity to last you ten lifetimes. You don’t need any more. Harboring resentment toward friends or family members is only going to hurt you. If you confront someone about their lack of help and they don’t make an effort to change, then maybe it’s time to walk away. Unless they have a reasonable explanation for their behavior, you don’t really need that person in your life. You probably won’t even notice that they’re gone, since they never did anything for you anyway. That is a decision only you can make.
Sometimes your friends or family members don’t have any reason at all for not helping out. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Not everyone feels empathy the way that you do. And, that’s ok. Everyone is different. You can allow other people to be themselves, while still being true to who you are. Just don’t expect anything from them. The sooner you stop expecting this person to offer help, the sooner you can let go of any resentment you have toward them. Maybe that’s not the role this person was meant to play in your life. Maybe they’re not supposed to be there to help you. Maybe they’re supposed to be there to teach you who you don’t want to be. Or, maybe they are meant to be your escape. The person you vent to or the person you go to when you want to talk about anything other than Alzheimer’s.
If you have a friend or family member like this in your life, it’s up to you to decide if you want to keep them there. There are some people who are just not going to help you. You have to decide if confronting them is worth it. If it is, then you can try talking to them and asking for help, but sometimes even that won’t work. Then, you have to decide whether or not you still want that person to be in your life, knowing that they will never lift a finger to help you. But either way, the resentment has got to go!
Resentment is nothing but a negative emotion that will drain you of every ounce of energy you have left. It will steal any amount of joy or happiness that you are capable of feeling. It will suck the life out of you. It will absolutely consume you. You cannot take care of another person when you are harboring resentment toward others. More importantly, you cannot take care of yourself. Resentment will tear you apart. You won’t be able to think about anything else. Resentment will only harm you. It’s not productive. It won’t help you or your situation. It won’t compel someone else to help you. You have to realize that you can’t change people. No matter what you say, do, or feel, none of it is going to change someone who doesn’t want to help. They are who they are and they will continue to be that way regardless of how it makes you feel. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but that doesn’t matter. Thinking about that won’t do you any good. It won’t get you anywhere. You’ll just drive yourself crazy. And, the people you resent will just continue to live their lives in oblivion. Your resentment won’t hurt them or change them, but it will hurt you and change you.
In order to let go of resentment, you must make a choice. You can remove the people from your life who are causing you resentment. Or, you can choose to keep those people in your life and just accept the fact that they are never going to help you. Either way, you have to learn to let go of the resentment. My Aunt Diane once told me that if you can lay your head down at night and feel good about what you’ve done, then that’s all that matters. You can’t worry about what everyone else is doing. You can only worry about yourself. You can’t control the behavior of others, but you can control the way it makes you feel.