It’s weird which reader comments affect me. It’s probably not the ones you think might either.
Comments from “haters” really don’t touch me. They roll off my back. Actually, these benefit this website by getting everyone riled up. Readership explodes. You need look no further than the “Most Commented” articles (ranked in the right sidebar) to see this. Hell, the number one, Austin Vantrease Father: Wrong Place, Wrong Time” has held this position since July 2013; some 20 months running now. Two other articles in the top ten sparked similar outrage: Just Let God Have Him (and Other Stupidity) and Austin Vantrease Siblings Speak Out.
Rightfully so, I might add.
The one that bothered me the most was surely overlooked by everyone because it was innocent enough. I can’t recall who said it and I have no inclination to dig back through to find out. I do know it was a person who is a HUGE supporter of Ryan. Maybe that’s why it hit so hard. Other than this, the only other thing I know is it was in response to a post that had everything to do with my anguish.
The comment that was posted back in 2013 simply said, and I paraphrase, “How is Ryan doing lately?”. That’s all it said, and nothing else.
It hurt me.
Here’s why. I opened myself up. I laid my emotions and physical pain out for all to see. Somehow, that innocent and caring comment, simply asking how my son is doing, made me feel guilty about talking of myself. I know this individual didn’t mean for it to get to me. In fact, I take complete responsibility for internalizing it like I did. Please, no one should believe this person is insensitive. This clearly was not the intent. On the contrary.
Since that time I’ve had a hard time writing about my hurt. It was my daughter’s last post, How Can Austin Vantrease Smile, that broke me from this guilt; well, a least a bit of it. Yes indeed, how can he smile when he has harmed so many? How can he smile when he cause endless pain and sadness on others? How can he look himself in the mirror? How can he justify his life and ongoing existence?
So, today I will because it is important for people to know how being a full-time caregiver rips our minds and bodies apart… relentlessly.
My body, literally from head-to-toe, hurts. Where it doesn’t hurt, it aches. What’s left has nerves that have deadened. My back is shot to hell-and-back. My hands, wrist, elbows, and shoulders never stop screaming in pain. Knees? Gone. Damn, pick any joint or muscle and I’ll tell you of my woes. Caring for someone who is incapacitated wreaks havoc. I have zero doubt that it’s caused irreversible damage; structurally and systemically.
Restful and prolonged sleep? Forget about it. I could give a clinic on the differences between being tired, fatigued, and exhausted. Did you know these can, and often do, co-exist for caregivers? The sad news is, it just keeps getting worse with time. The physical pain snaps sleep. The emotional pain causes dreams and nightmares that force sleep away in lieu of disappointment (that it was all just a dream), fear, or sadness.
It’s not all that rare to awake crying.
Emotionally, it’s pure torment. Not a single facet of life is left untouched. It’s constant worry about Ryan, the welfare of the family, finances, and it never ends. I guess, in many ways, it’s about the future… and making through the day.
Need I say more?