Caregiver Guilt: Confessions of a Walking Glue Stick
By Dr. Linda Cobourn
“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
My father-in-law blamed me. It was unreasonable, hurled out of frustration while we stood in the trauma unit, waiting to see if my husband would survive. I was thirty miles away in a graduate class when the driver of the pick-up truck broadsided Ron’s Taurus, but the reproach stayed with me for seventeen years.
I’m a walking glue stick.
Guilt is a common emotion for those who find themselves in the position of caregiver. The 2015 State of Caregiving Report noted that 81% of spousal caregivers feel guilty, making guilt the #1 emotional trap. We think we should do it all without complaint and we become frustrated with ourselves because we can’t. We self-punish for simply being human. I beat myself up for an accident I did not cause, questioning every decision I made concerning my husband’s care. Yes, I agreed to the emergency surgery and it damaged his heart. My fault. Yes, I let him be put into the rehab unit where his slippers were misplaced and he caught pneumonia. My fault. I even had occasional thoughts that it might have been better if Ron had not survived the accident.
That thought stuck on with Gorilla Glue.
But God is a solvent to even the strongest of adhesives. I began to search the Scriptures for a way to dislodge my self-reproach. One day, I was led to this verse in Joshua 5:9:
This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.
The Israelites had been so beaten down by 430 years of slavery they no longer believed God could love them. Before they entered the Promised Land, God told them that the shame they carried was rolled off them. They were not stuck with the reproach of Egypt. They could stop being walking glue sticks.
So could I. It took time, prayer, and counsel from friends to realize that the guilt I bore was irrational. I held myself responsible for things that were not my responsibility. God had forgiven my shortcomings; I needed to forgive myself. Time to learn to be more like rubber, repelling thoughtless remarks.
Just the other day, someone ventured to criticize a decision I’d made for my husband’s well-being. I let it bounce off me.
Because it really is better to be rubber.
Dr. Linda Cobourn is a Literacy Specialist who works with at-risk learners and non-traditional college students. She holds Instructional II certificates from Pennsylvania and Delaware in Elementary Education K-6 and Reading PK-12. Dr. Cobourn earned her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, focusing on the use of critical literacy in middle school. Currently, she teaches at Springfield College in Wilmington. She was recently cited by the Mayor of Philadelphia for her work constructing literacy programs for inner-city youth. She is the author of three published books and writes a blog at http://writingonthebrokenroad.blogspot.com/
This is it! All week I’ve been sharing my posts from the Facebook Love Your Spouse Challenge. I hope you’ve been encouraged and wanting to apply oneness to your marriage. It’s worth it. Not easy. Worth it.
LOVE YOUR SPOUSE CHALLENGE, DAY 7
Here we are. In a couple weeks we celebrate our 20th. There were people who questioned the age difference or the fact I was entering in a ready-made family. We went through infertility, miscarriage, parent deaths, job changes, near death of child and then the day-to-day.
We are not a perfect couple. In all honesty, this has been a tough year. We both changed our work situations. We had a child marry and a child graduate. We lost a beloved parent. Just one is what specialists suggest a couple go through in a year. Not all of them. We are both all or nothing personalities and we are both introverts. Affection is not natural for me, and he can be technical. We have different perspectives as parents, especially with medical issues. These truths are challenges.
But, God. We get each other’s jokes and laugh. The jokes we have are precious and goofy. We don’t get away a lot, so our hot tub dates are how we catch up on what’s going on, talk finances, schedule, etc…
We might get annoyed by failure to close cupboards or slurping, but if someone comes against one of us, we have each other’s back. If there’s a good action movie at the cheap theater, we’re all over it.
If you’re contemplating marriage or aren’t quite at year 20, realize those day 1 challenge pictures won’t look the same on day 7. You won’t be the same, either. I pray you are better, stronger, and more committed to oneness than you are right now. It is truly worth it.
Goodreads Giveaway…don’t miss out!
I’m winding down sharing the Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 6, from Facebook. Chances are you’ve been discouraged. That you’ve prayed for something and wondered if God ever heard. Be encouraged! We saw so many prayers answered as we watched Tom’s daughter marry and we interacted with so many people from Tom’s first marriage. It was a blessing and one of the highlights of my own marriage. Read on!
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day 6.
I was tagged by Susan and anyone who would like to play, please do! This is from 2011, Mandy’s wedding. It was a beautiful event on a beautiful day where I saw prayer after prayer answered.
Even now I look back and think about what Rocky said. I have gaps. Tom has gaps. Together, we got no gaps.
I’d love for you to win, but you can’t if you don’t enter! Click to learn more.
All this week I’ve been sharing my posts from the recent Facebook Love Your Spouse Challenge. My prayer is I encourage you with a realistic look at marriage. That you can choose oneness and isolation and beat the odds. I believe in you!
LOVE YOUR SPOUSE CHALLENGE, Day 5
This picture is from a cruise we took to Mexico to celebrate our 15th anniversary. From infertility to nearly losing a child to death of a parent and lots of transition, we had overcome so much that should have divided us. Anything we learned came from the FamilyLife Marriage Conference, something we attended as an engaged couple. The biggest principle we still work to apply is to choose oneness. Any relationship has two choices—isolation or oneness. Marriage has to operate in oneness. This was a celebration trip for sure.
Don’t Miss out! Click below to learn more about my Goodreads Giveaway.
This week I’m sharing my posts from the recent Facebook Love Your Spouse Marriage Challenge. Beyond the pictures, I wanted to be transparent with our story. Perhaps you can relate and need encouragement. I hope this blesses you today!
Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 4
This is a rare night out with other couples. I can’t remember the date, but our then baby was young and her health wasn’t stable. We lived in a new state with no family around. We couldn’t just get a sitter and go out, and for a long season, we lost “Tom and Julie.” Most of our pictures during this time are of all of us, which I love, but few exist of the two of us. Mothers of Preschoolers, MOPS, helped me so much in this season. If you’re married with young children, don’t forget to date. If you have a special needs situation, understand the divorce rate is high. Make a point to keep dating. Learn what organizations and people are out there to help. You and your spouse are worth it.
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