Before you pull all of your hair out and scream, “THERE IS  NO WAY I’M GOING TO ACCEPT THAT THIS IS WHERE MY LOVED ONE IS AT!” Please read the next sentence as well.

When we can lovingly accept our loved one, no matter what awful stuff is happening, WHILE holding onto hope for them to have the life they deserve, then we can retain hope for them to fully recover.

The two things are not mutually exclusive. We can be terrified and sad and not like the state of not being in solid recovery that they are at, and we can also love and accept them. It may help to re-read this last sentence a few times while breathing slowly.

And when we are able to love on them and accept them as they are in this moment, we can grow hope for them to fully recover. We are talking about ‘unconditional love’ here.

Even though we love them more than we can even believe, we may find that we might at times judge where they are in their recovery process. That can take away hope.

And there is the sticky piece. It’s not accepting ‘where they are at.’ It’s ‘accepting them where they are at.’ It’s about accepting them no matter where they are in their process (and it truly is THEIR PROCESS) while holding out hope for what is possible.

They can feel when we don’t accept them. And even when we are not accepting this sad life they are having they often feel we are not accepting THEM as our dear sweet beloved child. Does that make sense? Through the fog of fear, can you hear the differentiation between accepting their current state and accepting and LOVING THEM?  Deep breaths through the nose can help us process this and learn ways to really embrace the concepts.

When I say accepting them where they’re at I’m not saying accept where they’re at, I’m saying accept THEM just as they are. Much Like how we love a baby even when they’re covered in poop from head to toe we don’t want to keep them in that state or have them stay like that, we want them to be clean again and we accept them and love them where they are at.  Sometimes a gross visual can help us integrate a concept.

There are so many things that can take away our hope as family caregivers, it makes sense. We become aware that our child is suffering, not having linear progress towards recovery (even though we intellectually know that recovery is a very squiggly line not a straight one), we experience their lashing out at us. All of these things can diminish our hope. I liked the last paragraph especially in this piece from Stanford on illness and hope,  https://med.stanford.edu/survivingcancer/cancers-existential-questions/hope-as-a-strategy.html Take what sits with you, leave the rest.

Hope really can help keep recovery alive. And when even in the face of our loved one’s vitriol and pain, we can love them where they are at and STILL have hope for their full recovery. No, it is not easy. And you do NOT need to do it alone, in fact, your family member will do better when you as the caregiver have support for this aspect and many other aspects of supporting a loved one with a life threatening illness. People in recovery from eating disorders and other life threatening illnesses need us to help them have hope and when we are not demoralized, we can help them to not be demoralized.

If you’re looking for more support, let us know.  We have tools and support options to help you. In fact, we’ve added Rebecca Brumm, MA, LPC, CEDS as a Referral Partner and she is accepting coaching clients who are family caregivers. You can see her bio here.

Love may truly be the answer.