Updated August 20, 2017

This post originally appeared November 13, 2016, with the following note. This feels like a good time to run it again, with a few additions.

I’d previously said that this week would be about how to put the kibosh on holiday meltdowns before they even start. I’ll do that next week, promise. What I’m posting below felt more relevant for this week. -CT

Created of Love

I had the honor of presenting at the Alzheimer’s Association’s 18th Annual McGinty Conference this past week. Though I’m generally well-received, I can feel when the message is really resonating in the room, when there’s a particular point people are taking to heart. This time, the salient point seemed to be the part about showing Who We Really Are.

In Johari Window terms, I think it’s the magical merger of all the best bits of the Private Self and the Blind Self. I tend to think of it more as the soul, though–that eternal essence created of love, that’s bold and fearless.

I was explaining that people living with dementia have an extraordinary ability to read our energy very quickly. They don’t need to process our hairdo or shoes; they just know right away if we’re one of the good guys, or not so much. They see, within a nanosecond, Who We Really Are.


Let’s Skip Past All That

I said when we consciously bring respect, kindness, and love into each interaction, we’re not only going to get a better result with our parent or partner, but we’re also going to be showing Who We Really Are.

Forget the foot-tapping, hurry up, let’s get going, rushed daughter or wife on a mission. Forget the impatient, change-jingling, pacing husband or son. That’s not really us.

Let’s cut through the veneer we’re putting out there when we aren’t paying attention to the present moment, when we allow ourselves to get swept up into thinking about our task list and what’s next. Let’s skip past all that so we can reveal Who We Really Are.

Let’s skip past all the unevolved things we do when we forget Who We Really Are. Like when we stop visiting because someone doesn’t know our name anymore, or can’t recall it. Or can’t walk anymore, or whatever it is that makes us uncomfortable.


Just As You Are

Let’s set a standard that we value others, even when they communicate with us differently now, acting out what they mean more often that saying it. Even when they don’t look how they used to look.

And while we’re at it, let’s remember that we’re all eternal souls wearing human suits. We aren’t perfect. We screw up royally sometimes. Let’s acknowledge that we need forgiveness, we need grace.

Because when we do all that, we can give the most important gift we have to give: to look at this person we love, who may not be able to have a conversation any more, who may need help knowing what to do with a fork, who may be confused and sometimes angry, who may ask the same question over and over–to look at that person and say, from deep in our soul, with all our heart, as Mark Darcy does to Bridget Jones, “I like you, very much. Just as you are.”


A Heavy Lift

I know getting to that mindset can sometimes feel like a heavy lift. It feels like the world is on fire everyday, let alone whatever’s going on in your own house, in your own life. It’s exhausting. It feels hopeless sometimes.

I know you often feel worn out, beat down, scared, and frustrated. Tempting though it may be, #sheetcaking isn’t the answer.

You’re doing the very best you can in any given situation, and your best often doesn’t feel like enough. You’re tougher on yourself than anyone else would ever dream of being.

You get exhausted and overwhelmed, and it can feel silly to have hope that things could ever be different or get better. And let’s be honest, sometimes you struggle with liking your parent or partner. Sometimes you can get stuck in an interaction that’s so tough, it feels more like hours than moments, more like days than hours.

All of that is real and valid, and I reaffirm my promise to you that I’ll never try to talk you out of your feelings.


Who We Really Are

But I will also ask you to please remember that you’re “doing the Lord’s work” in the very purest sense. You’re a beacon of light and hope and reassurance to your parent or partner. You use your super power when you shift your perception just enough to see that, to see that you can step into a scary, anxious moment and make it okay for this frightened and confused person you love.

Your light shines most brightly when you take a moment to give yourself credit for how extraordinary you are; when you acknowledge that you’re worthy of respect, kindness, and love, too; when you allow yourself to see–and be–Who You Really Are. So keep doing you, because you’re making an enormous difference.

When you let your light shine in the darkness, you give everyone around you permission to do the same. You make the world a better place by showing up with respect, kindness, and love in your heart and your interactions.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. But you know what? I see you. I see Who You Really Are. You are making a positive difference, whether you know it or not. Whether anyone around you can acknowledge it or not.

And for what it’s worth, I like you, very much. Just as you are.

Ready to step out of overwhelm and anxiety and into the life you and your loved one deserve? Click the button below now to schedule your complimentary Dementia Caregiver Strategy call with Christy.

Schedule Appointment

Christy Turner is a speaker and consultant, founder of DementiaSherpa.com, creator of the Memory Care at Home program, and the featured expert on The Alzheimer’s Podcast. She’s enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,200 people living with dementia and their families…including multiple experiences in her own family.