5/12/2015

Where'd All My Friends Go? The Social Life of a Caregiver

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Written By Aileen Trang
Image of smiley faces drawn on someone's fingers

Before I became a full-time caregiver, I had a huge group of friends. I often went to social events and was very involved in my friends’ lives. When my caregiving duties became my first priority, I found myself living a very different life. My energy reserve became a rare commodity and I had to prioritize and pick where my energy went. I became too busy and too exhausted to regularly call, text, and meet up with my friends. I couldn’t afford the time or money it took to go to all the parties, dinners, and events I was used to. I started missing out on gatherings and falling behind on what was happening with my friends. My friends were taking less interest in my life because it revolved around caregiving and its frustrations. As time passed I could see them drifting away.

For a long time, I blamed myself for this loss. I felt that keeping up with my friends was too much for me to handle while caregiving. I also resented my friends for not standing by me. Shouldn't they be there through the good and bad times?

I didn’t notice it then, but other relationships were beginning to play a larger role in my life. I grew closer to my low maintenance friends, the friends that had really busy schedules who'd occasionally pop into my life to socialize. Suddenly their ability to connect matched perfectly with my needs. This worked well for what I was able to give, but I missed the close, constant contact I had before.

I understand now the changes to my social circle reflected what I needed at the time. This realization has helped me come to terms with my loss.

All caregivers need a social outlet. For some, it’s a lot of interaction, while for others it may be less. That social outlet must meet to our needs, both in terms of getting the support we want and need, but also in terms of who you connect with. People are constantly growing and changing, so naturally your surroundings will change to suit you. Your social circle is no exception. Realizing this helped me understand and accept the changes to my social circle.