Caring for the Caregiver
One of the greatest privileges I have a massage therapist is to care for those who are caring for loved ones. When a caregiver comes in for a session, it is often clear that they are carrying the heavy weight of the demanding and never ceasing job of caring for someone they love. They enter into my space and lay on my table, giving me and themselves permission to turn the tables and allow me to care for them. For me to pour myself, my love, my energy, my care into them for 30, 60 or 90 minutes.
I have been a caregiver. I know from personal experience what it is like to live in survival mode, where each day fluctuates between feeling as though there is nothing left of me to give one hour to knowing that I have to continue fighting for my loved one the next. I know how it feels to hear all of those around you telling you to "take care of yourself" and wonder how on earth to make that happen because it never feels like there is any time left for you and if there is time left for you, you are likely too tired to pour energy into self care. I also know that even though your bran tells you it's not, it feels selfish to take that time for you. To leave your loved one at home or in the hospital to go do something that enhances your own health and wellbeing.
I remember sleeping night after night in a recliner in my husband's hospital room and feeling as though I just needed a 10-15 minute chair massage. I knew that a massage would release the tension in my shoulders and neck and would make me feel as though a physical weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Our healthcare system is not very good at caring for caregivers. They are often forgotten and neglected and it is up to them to take care of themselves and that is so very hard to do.
Recently a client got off my table, with tears on her cheeks and hugged me, thanking me for what I do and giving back to her. It was the greatest gift I could have been given and it gave more back to me than I gave to her.