My back is on fire.
If you have ever hit that certain stage of frustration and angst that has been built up, finally manifesting as this physical sensation… where you have no regard for most inanimate physical matter… on the verge of a violent physical outburst to the nearest couch cushion, pillow, table, wall, door, or anything that could take a punch of this magnitude… then you will understand where I was this morning.
It may or may not necessarily be a good thing that I don’t let frustration out in a destructive manner with my hands. I don’t cause damage externally but perhaps the inward conservation of exertion might be beginning to break the dam walls of my current “go with the flow” attitude.
What ends up happening when you imagine yourself as a river flowing through the topographical layout of your life and obstacles are in your flow? Diversion. Division. Diffusion.
My ideals about caring and nurturing people or situations is that initial main flow. What has happened in the past few years is different things have been popping up, and being the one carrying those ideals, I apply them to those different situations accordingly.
When I was living next-door to my grandparents when they were alive, I would occasionally be called over by my aunts to stay with them for a while, and assist them with things. It was normal grandson-helping-grandparents things. Not a whole lot of “special” attention but just average physical assistance like reaching, lifting, moving things.
Later, my immediate family would end up moving in with them in the upstairs bedrooms. I would still occasionally have to be pulled into my recurring role as caregiver to them. It began to be my daily thing due to me being right there and other (older) family members that used to carry the role started planning to do more things with their individual growing families.
At a time when my immediate family dynamic was degrading, my friends were all doing things without me elsewhere, my music creation was pretty much non-existent, and I was still battling anxiety and depression because of it all, I still found myself in the caregiving role.
I learned quite a few things about myself as a caregiver. 1) I pay attention to detail. Situation-dependent details… where I would create if-then rules for an endgame of maintaining efficiency in daily living. 2) I am very “If I were in that situation…” thought-oriented in providing quality service to the situation. Empathy – it works for me (sometimes too good and that may be a problem). 3) Whatever things I want to do will be placed on the back-burner for someone I have respect for, or someone who really needs help in a situation I would feel bad for abandoning, or a situation where I have specialized knowledge and wisdom that is very useful and I would feel like I was wasting that if I didn’t help.
“You’re Good At This. Here’s More.”
It’s been quite a bit of time now since that time of caregiving for my late grandparents. Now, my dad’s friend is the person who needs caregiving. He moved in with us after his wife divorced him in an unflattering fashion after he suffered a stroke. He can get around but he needs detailed help with two-hand operations, with his medication management, and getting him to his appointments. Not a whole lot as far as a list of things I really need to handle… but the devil is in the details.
As the person who is there for most of his medical appointments and managing his medicines, I have had to retain a lot of information about his physical state, a general pharmacology of his medications, blood lab test results to relay to his different doctors, new if-then rules, and just a whole lot of taking stock of what’s happening every week.
About a month ago, I had to call 911 for the first time because of an incident that ultimately was a bad coincidence of timing that was inopportune due to a pneumonia infection he gained due to one of the immunosuppressive characteristics of one of his medications. He was admitted to the hospital, then to an assisted living home after his pneumonia was treated. They provided physical therapy for regaining strength and he was back to his pre-911 state and back at our house.
The difference now though is that there is a new team of people who will be visiting. Though there will be these new people helping out, I am now having to keep tabs on even more information and be able to synchronize these multiple data points.
More of the same and I can definitely handle it…
…there is a part of me that keeps getting pushed aside.
A few months ago, I was finding my ground again in networking and on my way to getting some new music projects completed.
In recent weeks, that has been put on pause… again.
I was losing the space I made for making music physically and temporally… again.
Flattering but unfortunately for me, I am the second most responsible adult in this household… and I have the least friends to see consistently. I am “honorable” and “commendable” in this way to be able to be a caregiver and willing to do so…
…but now I am receiving messages from people and other sources of synchronicity every day asking me or causing me to ask myself, “Am I happy with this?”.
I am going to be honest: Not entirely.
External help costs money and I am already here and I will not abandon it… for now. It is a tough dilemma. In the downtime, I wonder what would have happened if I left years ago. Would this have been seen as an option? Would I have been seen as an option in this case? It doesn’t help to question retrospectively but it keeps the perspective.
As I stated earlier, I have been receiving messages… and questions asking about my music. Apparently people have been listening to my old remixes or occasionally visiting my Soundcloud and wondering if I am working on anything new. I only have a few close friends who I have actually been working on music with on those latest projects that have been paused on my part. Everybody else wonders what I have up my sleeve. Some people get the story of what I’m dealing with at home and understand… but then they also are reminding me that life is passing me by.
I get a bit emotional at that idea.
I follow a lot of poets, wordsmiths, and positive quote accounts on Instagram, Facebook, WordPress, and on Tumblr. I get inspired by their pieces on love and creativity.
Recently, this one appeared from Thought Catalog’s Twitter account…
It made me question how available I was to these situations and my willingness to put my own things aside to help out.
When I am thinking about love and music, I am thinking about a future life. I am thinking about a creation of something new that was made out of something people can connect with.
When I am in my caregiver mode for these certain caregiver situations, there is really minimal if any future progression. It’s really just maintaining a daily “get through the day” regimen. It has been draining me when I sit and realize how true it is that life is passing me by but I am having trouble leaving this situation because like I typed earlier, there’s not many options that won’t be expensive in some resource somewhere. I am the least expensive option. I am thinking the “world will stop spinning”, even just for a short while, but still putting the stress elsewhere and maybe being viewed as a person who abandons situations.
Even in the digital age of data transmission, working on music projects over-the-wire is difficult to have those right conversations with the right dialogue about the situation. It’s difficult to co-produce a track remotely. It’s difficult to judge the delivery of someone’s vocal over video chat. It’s time-cosuming to send tracks back and forth for revision because we aren’t in the same room. It’s difficult being this available for caregiving but not being available to continue my creativity.
I have such a blessed network of people in the entertainment industry. I have professional studios I can have access to. I have producer friends that are in with the major record labels. I have radio connections that could easily push any single I put out. Even with all that, it is to be understood that I have to be present for the work.
My family and friends all have wanted and still want to see me succeed in music because damn it… I AM THAT DAMN GOOD AT MUSIC. I HATE having to say that myself but I think enough people have said it where I have earned a right to without losing my humility.
Yet here I am, making sure the right medications are being taken at the right dosage, driving out to the appointments a few towns away.
I’m not heartless. I feel better as a person for doing this but at what cost to my personal fulfillment in my passions?
Something that has been getting to me recently: Not a lot of people have really seen me in-person really doing my music creation or music science-ing thing.
A lot of people have heard the end results of my producing with finalized tracks from other artists. Those artists have heard me in the studio recording live, figuring out vocal harmonies, engineering the “radio competitive” sound for their song being produced in a garage. Some have heard me play live for my cover band gigs. The bands themselves had the rare privilege of me teaching them how to play songs and their different instrument parts for songs I was not alive for when the song originally debuted and they were. The cover bands and the studio artists alike have heard my music theory mouth (that they don’t necessarily understand) and have heard my immediate ear-to-instrument playing that I was blessed to have and are always blown away. I am appreciated as this musical force in this region and they find it odd that I’m still here.
I am appreciated as a caregiver though too.
I am pretty sure most readers of my blog or this post have heard the idea that anyone that is appreciated for something will often go above and beyond in their work because of that.
I don’t think it’s a battle of appreciation but it’s just something interesting to note that the two things I am most appreciated for are the things I am having a dilemma between. Interesting side note: I noticed recently that when I can’t do something due to being ill, like I was with pneumonia a few weeks ago, things just aren’t as fluid, just aren’t the same, and sometimes just don’t get done until I’m better. My worry of the world “stopping its spin” on a specific level unfortunately has a track record that needs to change. Also, who takes care of the caregiver when the caregiver needs care? A bit of an out-of-character whiny question for myself but one that I had a revelation about in my case. That was a bit of a tangent and I will leave the topic of always finding my way into situations of one-sided dynamics later… maybe. I don’t like publicizing any whining. I don’t like to whine at all, but this post isn’t helping that, but it is a therapeutic release for now… but I digress…
It has been an interesting Spring to Summer transition of things going on around me.
With all the transitions, year to year, season to season, month to month, week to week… I have been trying to find more consistency in opportunity for my seemingly enigmatic passions.
My passionate side about various things is rarely seen but when it is, the people who have seen it are surprised and permanently curious about what I’ll do next, never expecting anything less than great.
There are a few passionate sides NOBODY has seen. It would be the best of everything when those sides have an opportunity.
Until then, I will have to just be aware that my passions are still alive in me, creeping out of my soul and climbing up my back, reminding me to feed them. I appreciate the few people who try to remind me also that I should be living them out more and that I have been in this caregiving role enough, and that the world will not stop spinning if I left, and that it wouldn’t be as bad as I think.
It can be frustrating to have a spark lit inside you and nowhere to grow the flame.