The meeting wound down and I was surprised that an hour and a half had passed so quickly.
As I packed up my things; notebook, pen, some brochures that were passed round the table containing information on Alzheimer’s, and other pamphlets written specifically for caregivers, I looked around the room and at the people in it and knew that I’d be back.
I was glad that I came and had to admit to myself that I was an ass for pre-judging these women, the process and for thinking I was wasting my time-I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The truth is that I wish I’d come sooner but no point in getting lost in “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, I came to the meeting when I did so that was when I was suppose to begin this part of my journey.
I was leaving with the knowledge that to be a caregiver, in the presence of other caregivers and be able to share information and stories is a rare and wonderful opportunity.
It was a great feeling to be ‘heard’ by those that know of what you speak, and to be part of a group that can validate one another’s experiences is truly unique (there’s nothing like be in the trenches with someone who’s fighting the same war).
And by living a common experience and coming together to share what we live and know, I saw first hand (or first ‘eyes’ to mix a metaphor but properly term it) that the comfort we provide one other (sometimes just by a wink, a nod, or a hearty embrace) can give us the fuel to sustain and maintain (self and sanity) as we go back to our lives as caregivers.
What I also realized as I looked around the room at the people in it is that we are more alike than we are different; bound by a common experience that transcends gender, age, race or class.
So, even thought there are people out there in the world (that I already know, and know they love and support me), the support group has become important to me, and it gives me solace to know that I am not alone, that there are other caregivers just like me (who just happen to look nothing like me).
Update: I’ve been back to the group more or less faithfully, twice a month for the past several months since that first meeting back in May 2013.