Integrity, in this business of caregiving, holds different variations. Every day I see both authenticity and corruption. Both the disease and its victim can easily be taken advantage of. It’s the ethical choices we make when caring for our loved one, that can head us down a slippery slope that will either erode integrity and self-respect…or not. Though I’ve been tempted, I’ve chosen not to slip because I know the road back would be grim.
I am not talking about the choices we make because we are mentally and physically exhausted from our 36 Hour Day (an excellent book by the way, The 36 Hour Day) where cutting corners to re-prioritized is imperative to get the necessities done within that day. No, I’m talking about the decisions that arise that impact our own moral compass and self-respect.
I have written about friends and family who have permanently fallen away from Mom’s life. Every one of them lied to some degree in their response when Mom confronted them about it. They took advantage of her disease and disrespected her personally in the process. Clearly their choice lacked integrity, and quite frankly, I’m thrilled they are not a part of her life anymore, much less mine.
Another example that is void of integrity, are the tele-marketers, or Mom’s neighbors who were aware she was compromised and tried to extort money from her. I was on it enough to thwart those disasters, but I know many friends whose folks fell victim and worked tirelessly for months to recoup their losses, if at all.
Jim Rohn, one of my all-time favorite thinkers and speakers, said, “Mistakenly, the man says, ‘This is the only area where I let down.’ Not true. Every let down affects the rest. Not to think so is naïve. However, every new discipline we impose on ourselves affects the rest of our personal performance in a positive way. Every time we choose to do less than we could, this error in judgment has an effect on our self-confidence. Repeated every day, we soon find ourselves not only doing less than we should, but also being less than we could.”
Ever notice when you start to clean the house, or start one small project, your motivation moves on to another project, then another, and another? Eat an apple a day, it’ll inspire you to take a walk. Take a walk, it’ll inspire you to tackle a project. Tackle a project, it’ll inspire you to write that letter you’ve been meaning to write. Sure, these are far less important matters than caring for our loved one, I know that. The severity of blowing a diet isn’t the same as blowing our integrity. But the decision to go one way or another are equally as subtle and quiet. It’s the impact that can be explosive or gentle. It’s the difference between regret and respect.
What Is True For Me: How I see myself directly relates to the choices I make, not circumstance. Caregiving is hard enough without the weight of a dumb decision nudging me off course. Caregiving, for me, deserves my decency and integrity because this is my mother, not some diet I’m trying to maintain. Am I perfect? Have I blown it?? Of course I have – and paid the price.