Caregivers as martyrs

I read an article about how caregivers can turn into martyrs and that it’s wrong.  Unfortunately, I cannot find it or else I’d paste the link…  I looked!  But alas, couldn’t figure out where I originally found it.

At first, I read it and thought “seriously?  What the hell?  This guy is a jerk!  He has no idea!!!!”

And then I stopped and really thought about it and it reminded me of a conversation I had with someone last year.  I was telling him about life at home and his response was to the extent of “All you’re doing is whining and you sound like a martyr.”

I was FURIOUS.  I tried to explain that I wasn’t and just wanted someone to listen and then stopped speaking to him for a long time. 

Know why I was furious?  Because he was right. 

I was becoming a martyr.  And not in a good way.

I wanted so desperately for someone to notice me.  To listen to me.  To know what I went through on a daily basis that I took on the ‘woe is me’ persona and tried my best to get everyone to feel sorry for me.

The worst part is that I’d tell people I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me but in reality, I did. 

Can you blame me?

EVERYONE sympathized with the quad.  Everyone.  They could see that his life was different and harder and that he was able to do amazing things and live life despite it.  They supported him.  They told him how great he was.  They SAW him for the amazing man that he is.

And no one saw me. 

I was just his wife.

No one knew that I was the one who took care of him.  I was the one who helped him eat.  I was the one who woke up at 2 am because he was cold.  Or hot.  Or uncomfortable. 

No one knew that when he went dysreflexic, I leapt into action and did what was necessary to fix it.  I know how to change a suprapubic tube.  I do it often.  I can do it under 5 minutes flat, in our van, while on the side of the highway, in the rain. 

No one knew my stress.  My pain.  My struggles.  No one could see that my life was different and harder and that I was able to do amazing things and live life despite it.

I wanted someone to see me.  To hear me.  To support me.  And so I became a martyr. 

(side note, martyr is a weird word to spell….)

But I did!  And I was furious that I was called out for doing it. 

Furious because it was true.  The truth hurts….  It hurt a lot.

I do NOT want to be a martyr.  I cannot tell you how I changed but I have changed some of my behaviors.  Although I tend to not talk about things at home as much but when I do, I ensure that it’s in a much more positive light. 

Yes, life is hard but it’s doable.   I struggle but when I need support, I make myself get it.  No more doing it all myself. 

Perhaps that’s why I’ve taken to the internet to write down my thoughts.  So I stop taking the woe is me approach and instead start letting others know that they aren’t alone.  When I felt alone, I became a martyr.  There is no reason to be one. 

We are all in this together.  We are all amazing.  We are all wonderful.  Caregivers and loved ones alike.   We do not have to live this life alone and do things without help.  GET HELP.

Part of what has helped is talking to the quad.  Getting him to understand what I need.  Getting my family to understand what I need.  Yes, having someone there to fold laundry when I can’t is great but what I really need is someone to listen. 

To understand that my life can be hard but that it can also be very easy. 

To understand that when I’m sad it doesn’t mean I’m depressed, it means I’m having a rough day and I need a hug and a shoulder to lean on.

To understand that when I don’t answer my phone, I’m not ignoring you.  I’m caring for someone. 

To understand that when I can’t hang out, I really want to….  DESPERATELY.  I just can’t because I don’t have anyone else to help the quad and kid at home.

To all those who are dealing with martyrs, take a minute to really listen to them.  What are they really trying to tell you? 

They need help.  Please offer it. 

And to all the martyrs, stop it.   There is no need.  You need help instead so force yourself to ask for it.  People don’t know what it’s like since you don’t tell them.

I have a quote posted on my computer that I read every morning and unfortunately, cannot remember who said it.  SO please, if you know, let me know!


“This is suffering…

Other people experience it too…

I am not alone.

May I be kind.”


Please be kind to yourself and to each other.  We are all suffering in some way. 

4 thoughts on “Caregivers as martyrs

  1. Oh, I totally get this, and I’ve been there, sister. Love that you’ve been able to turn the corner, and encourage the rest of us to come with you!

  2. You guys are awesome! I promise to not be a martyr again as long as you promise to keep being awesome (and send me love… ha!). THANK YOU!

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