Saturday, July 25, 2009

The breaking point

I've been giving too much to others in the past few weeks/months. It's knocked me into a rut from my past. I have an old, bad habit of progressively erasing myself until I almost disappear, as a cumulative response to escalating demands from other people.

Not that the other people are aware of what I'm doing. I'm not saying that it's what they're asking of me. It's not their fault.

This is what happens when I'm surrounded by people who are upset. They're not all upset about the same thing. Just life, doing what life does, has conspired to disturb a lot of people in my life at the moment for one reason or another.

The more emotional the other person becomes, the "calmer" I get in order to compensate. I instinctively focus on being the grounded, stable one. Except I'm not really grounded and stable. Well, sometimes I am, but lately it's been an act. I figure that someone has to be "the strong one". We can't all freak out, or nothing will ever be resolved. So I shove all my anxieties and sorrows somewhere into the back of my mind, and concentrate on soothing the other person.

Usually, in my own time, I can go back and unpack what I've shoved away, and deal with it. Except when a lot of stressful things happen one after the other, without enough of a break in between, for months on end, eventually I can't handle any more. I've reached that point.

I won't name any names, but there are five people whom I care about who have been going through a lot of crap lately. That's a lot of people. And when one might be having a good day, another is into his or her next crisis. It seems like it will never end.

I'm not sure how much more soothing I can do. Obviously at work I have to remain professional. I don't want to be mean. Except at another level I'm so fed up with it all I do want to be mean. I'd like to tell everyone to F off and leave me in peace. The truth is, I'm frustrated, because nothing I do makes enough of a difference. All these people I care about are suffering, and I can't bear to witness it anymore. Except that I don't have a choice. And I don't know how to handle it.


darcknyt said...

I wish I had something to tell you which would help. I don't. I can say prayer and throwing yourself on Christ CAN help -- has helped others I've known -- but I can't say it with a lot of conviction because it almost never works for me. If I ever do it.

You only have so much fuel in your tanks, and when it's exhausted, it's exhausted. There's nothing wrong with that. I know you probably know that; I just wanted to reiterate you're not whacked in thinking this.

I'll throw a prayer up for you, too, and we'll see if that helps. (Don't hold your breath, though. ;) )

Vanessa said...

So you are the designated "she who will remain stable while the rest of us fall apart" driver.

Sounds like you need your own fall apart time, time to just vent and blow off some steam. Perhaps a long bath or a nice walk, maybe journaling - I know WordPress allows you to password protect specific posts (don't know about Blogger) so that if you wanted to blog it, but not let the world see it, you could do it there - just rant and rave to your hearts content and no one but you would know. You could also download a little program called iDailyDiary for something private on your own computer and not on the web.

I used to lament, "so when do *I* get to throw dishes and be upset?" A friend suggested I line a garbage can and get some cheap dishes from a thrift store, and crash to my hearts content. I've never done it, but just knowing I *can* if I ever needed to is a strange sort of comfort.

One thing I have learned is that sometimes being strong for another somehow enables them not to have to be strong for themselves. Not saying that's your situation, but it might help you to step back and just ask yourself, "What would happen if I wasn't there for them? What would they do?" Maybe letting go in some of those situations is actually the best thing you can do for them.

You're in my prayers hon. It's never easy feeling like you always have to be the strong one and never able to have your own weaknesses. Really though, it IS okay for you to take a break - you're only human.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

{{HUGS}} You don't always have to be the strong one. Ken is there for you to lean on and you have many friends that will be there for you too. Let yourself be human and take a break.

G said...

I agree with the other posters here.

Sometimes, you just have to let go of the situation and find some down time for yourself.

Doesn't really matter where you find it, so long as you find it.

BTW: Nice blog. Found yours through LL Cool Joe's.

unsigned said...

Oh just be yourself. Life is so much better that way. If someone loves you all they ever want is for you to be yourself.

powdergirl said...

I've got a sister just like you, in this respect anyway.
I hope you can get some breathing room soon.
Remember what they tell you when before you take off in an air-pane.
The part when if you need an oxygen mask, you need to get your self hooked up before helping others.

I imagine it would be difficult to change this habit of life time, but maybe you could ease up a little at a time.

Sparkling Red said...

darcknyt: Thanks. I do believe that prayers help. Leaning on Christ helps too. But like you said, when there's nothing left to give there's nothing to do but allow time for recharging. I also find I really benefit from the support of my online friends, like you. :-)

Vanessa: I appreciate your thoughtful and caring reply very much. :-) I've never been tempted to smash dishes, although I have thrown pillows and punched my mattress in the past. You're right that I need to step back and let some of the players look after themselves now. They'll just have to figure it out. I'm going to check out the iDailyDiary program- sounds neat. I might give it a try. And thank you for your prayers! :-)

Ron: I am going to take a break. Or to put it another way, I am now broken. It's time to hang out in pieces, until I'm ready to put myself back together again.

G: Thanks for your support. :-) Downtime is at a premium, but you're right, I need to make it a priority. I'm skipping a birthday party today so I can have some time to breathe. It feels good.

Unsigned: :-) Wise words.

Powdergirl: That's funny - I have used that metaphor to encourage others to take care of themselves, but I still need to be reminded when it comes to looking after myself! You're so right: it's very hard to change the habits of a lifetime. But I will ease up. At this point, I can't carry on as I was, so something's gotta give.

Jenski said...

ACK! Definitely sounds like time to make time for you! Hope you found some this weekend for a quick recharge and that there's more down the road for a longer recharge!

Scarlet said...

When you write, "I'm frustrated, because nothing I do makes enough of a difference," I can totally relate to what you're saying. I'm a lot like you in that I tend to remain calm and show them "this too shall pass" and tomorrow will be better today and all that good stuff. The problem is they call back tomorrow with the exact same problem (or tag on a new one). The bottom line doesn't get better, and we have to be careful we don't become codependent. Remember, when we help them too much (give too much advice or support), it can backfire because rather than walking tall on their own, they use us as crutches (unintentionally, of course).

We need balance and we need to care for ourselves before we can be any good to anyone else. I'm slowly learning to turn away when I've done and said it all. It's not easy. I'll be praying for you!

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: I did manage to recharge; at least enough to feel almost back to my normal self today, Monday. Thank goodness it rained all weekend - that gave me a good reason to park my butt on the couch and rest.

Scarlet: Thank you! It's funny how much I can "know" all that common sense, and yet I still need to be reminded when it comes to applying it to myself. And it is amazing how much people are able to pull themselves together when they have to. I should remember that more often.

San said...

Wow, this sounds really exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a facade of calm when you want to SCREAM.

Aurora said...

Five is a lot of people when you're close to them.