If you’re a caretaker, this might be why

December 20, 2023


Cheer when your friend wins.
Hold her when she’s sad.
Love her when she needs hope.
Care for her when she says she’s fine.
Believe in her when she doubts.
Show up for her when she’s alone.
Be the one who knows you’re in her corner.

“That’s YOU!” said my closest friend when she saw this quote.

And it’s true, as I’ve aged, I’ve become a caretaker of sorts. In the best of ways. Because everyone needs care at one time or another. And it’s so much fun to give–especially when it’s a surprise. And most especially when someone is clearly in need.

We aren’t all caretakers by nature. To be honest I don’t know many. Maybe not any at all. And let me be completely honest: I am very, very rarely the recipient of the kind of care I give.

I don’t need it, that’s not it. But I do notice it.

Well, let me correct that. I’d like it. I really would. So maybe I DO need it. I just look like I don’t. Because, of course, that’s a kind of defense mechanism.

But since it’s not my reality, I love reaching out to those who need—anything.

I wasn’t always this way. But now it’s second nature. And it makes me happy.

Why is that? I’d never thought about why….until I read this:

You like taking care of people
because it heals the part of you
that needed someone to take care of you.

That resonated.

I’ve never been very good at letting people take care of me….maybe because I don’t know what it feels like. So it’s entirely possible that instead, I nurture myself by nurturing others.

How it makes US feel may be the motivating factor behind much of how we are with others.

Sometimes, when we’re dysfunctional with others it’s because there’s comfort in the familiarity of DIScomfort. And sometimes, when it’s nurturing, we’re just giving others what we, ourselves, didn’t get. It’s self-healing.

If you’ve ever done the Gestalt Empty Chair in therapy, you probably get how that works.

When we’re younger, our behavior is mostly unconscious, based on patterns we’ve seen or experienced. Knee-jerk. I can’t think of a time when I was young that I gave my behavior any thought. Maybe I should have. Maybe we all should have.

But if we do any self-development at all as we age, we become conscious of how we act and if we’re lucky, we can suss out why and what it means.

Oh, and we can change! It’s absolutely possible to teach an old dog new tricks, no matter what the saying tells us. We can always learn and grow–if we want to.

This is why a really good therapist is worth their weight in gold. (But finding one…another story.)

Those are my thoughts this morning. As I write this I am sending a couple toys to kids who are in a shelter. I just saw something their mother posted. I messaged her, found out what the two five-year olds like and had Amazon send them. They’ll arrive before Christmas.

For me, doing this stuff feels better than a piece of chocolate cake tastes. It’s much more nurturing.

(And I do love me some chocolate cake!)

6 comments on “If you’re a caretaker, this might be why
  1. Michele Cassara says:

    Oh no 😳 does this mean I need to send you some chocolate cake😉
    All kidding aside
    … You care deeply And it shows with your little acts of kindness. 🥰

    • Like souls recognize each other, because the same is true of you!! I love how we have gotten to know each other deeply—and appreciate one another– over the years. Yeah, skip the chocolate cake and now that I have your peach muffins recipe I can make those…see? It’s hard to take care of me!

  2. Laurie Stone says:

    I find myself more of a caretaker as I get older. I’m more apt to notice need than when younger. I like that part of aging. God knows, we’re always busy!

  3. Jennifer says:

    That quote resonated. I am a caretaker and don’t truly know how to be taken care of. And perhaps it does stem from when I was a child and learned that if you’re not bleeding or a bone isn’t sticking out, then you’re ok. I walked around with a fractured arm for a week because my mother didn’t believe anything was wrong. She only sent me to the hospital to stop my whining and prove that nothing was wrong. Imagine her surprise when I came home in a cast. I only allow myself to be taken care of when I’m down for the count and can barely move out of bed. And then, most times, I’m directing the care-taking

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