So, today I attended my first support group. I was a little apprehensive, I wasn't sure how honest I would be able to be considering that they know Mom. It was an all woman group today and the ladies couldn't have been lovelier or more supportive. Three ladies were early, like me, and put my fears to rest. They explained that what is said in the room, stays in the room. No judgement. And they meant it.
Everyone welcomed me with smiles and encouragement. The director asked someone to share with me what she takes away from the meetings. I knew most of what she was going to say... you meet people that are going through the same things, you're not alone, you have to make time for yourself. But, the one that struck a new note was that you walk away with the appreciation that things aren't so bad at home after you've heard other people's stories, that other people have it worse and they are surviving it.
It was a relaxed group. The talk was about caregiving but also about their lives. Everyone had a chance to speak. I did fairly well, I didn't cry for anyone. I wanted to, but I withstood the pressure. But, I did cry for myself. Yep, the director asked me what I have found to be the hardest thing in caring for my mom. And I lost it. But, the good part? I had people nodding in understanding as I answered. The woman next to me rubbed my back as I made it through my words. It was very relaxing for me.
In response to another person's comment about feeling isolated, I shared that I don't take Mom out much anymore. The director responded that from what she has seen in the short times that Mom is at the center, she can't imagine ever being able to take her out. Wow. She gets it and doesn't judge.
But, the thing that surprised me was that I didn't have the feeling that my situation wasn't so bad, that others have it worse. Yes, there were some heartbreaking stories and I feel sympathy and empathy for every one of those women's situations. Mostly, I felt relief that there aren't a lot of people who have to deal a loved one as angry and bitter as Mom. And that makes me happy.