This was the beginning of three torturous, controlling years.
I immediately phoned the parents, who basically told me they didn't care and this person should go right ahead and kill themselves! I was horrified! Here was their child asking for help and they didn't care! A sibling made contact and they got together once, but the relationship rekindled out of pity didn't last long and I watched as the little spark of friendship from the sibling was snuffed out by my "friend" due to ego issues. Eventually the family stopped talking to me as they didn't like the way I spoke to them! I was incensed by their apathy, when one of their own was in trouble. Perhaps in hindsight this should have been a warning light, they knew this person better than I did.
I am an all-or-nothing type of person, so against my better judgement and warnings from my friends and family (and my gut feeling), I jumped in with both feet, convinced I could help. I attempted to break down walls and build bridges between this friend and their family, I spent hours listening to the same problems over and over again, all the while ignoring the warning signs, that at no point did this person ever take responsibility for any of the problems in their life. I played down my own happiness and my wonderful life and relationships to make my "friend" feel better. I would spend all my energy smothering this person with positivity and boundless energy, at the expense of my own family, friends and happiness. I felt like I had another child who I needed to take care of and I would make time for this person, no matter what was going on in my own life.
The more I gave the more they took, constantly reminding me how wonderful my life was and how terrible theirs was, adding to my guilt that I had a wonderful family to go back to. My guilt was so bad that on the day that I gave birth to my third child, instead of spending quality time with the two young children that I had, I was racing around, fetching and carrying and attending interviews that I had set up for one of the family members to get a real job and some direction in their life. Needless to say the person lasted only one day in that job. But still I continued trying to help. When this family phoned or texted me ad nauseum I would stop what I was doing and answer because I felt beholden, perhaps when even my 4 year old was rolling her eyes and saying "not again!!" I should have noticed the impact, but on I went, being the good Samaritan! I couldn't see the wood for the trees.
One evening I was at home answering the 100th text that night (I felt if I didn't answer the texts immediately, perhaps suicidal thoughts would re-emerge) when I remembered attending a talk by a colleague of mine who had had the misfortune of being in the heart of the tsunami, where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. One thing he said stuck with me and it was this:
"I was pulling as many people out of the gushing waters as I could, men, women and children. I was exhausted and I got to a point where I had to make a decision - I could only help people who could lift their own body weight and help themselves. I did not have sufficient energy to pull people out who were a dead weight."This memory was (as Oprah calls it) an A-HA moment for me. I had reached the point where my health was being affected, I did not have sufficient energy to continue helping someone who was dead weight and not wanting to help themself. By helping this family, I was drowning.
I wanted out. Out of this mess that I had made myself, of helping a person who was not worthy of my help, I had leapt into their lives and told them everything they wanted to hear, how important they were, how deserving they were, purely because they were a human being and now I had to let go. I didn't know how to extract myself from their life. I reduced the amount of time I spent with them but I again ended up feeling guilty, as their life was empty without me. I felt like a prisoner of my own making. Fortunately, because I knew this person so well, I had a suspicion that something else was going on and very soon thereafter, this "friend" did something unforgivable and I was able to use that as my get-out-of-jail-free card, but the guilt still ate me up inside because now a young girl, ironically aged 20, was involved! And although I did reach out to help her, I gave up very quickly after I realized that she would be the scape goat for me not having to care anymore. I felt sorry for her but I felt more sorry for me. Although the relief was overwhelming, when the ordeal was over, I was filled with rage as I looked back with 20-20 hindsight and realized just how much I had been played, how much I'd sacrificed and how much this "friend" had taken, lied repeatedly and hadn't cared about my feelings at all.
It's taken me quite some time to get over this "friendship" for want of a better word, because I had allowed myself to be used over and over again. Fortunately through all our interactions, I never considered this person to be a true friend, as I gave and gave but got nothing in return. I think the idea of the friendship was stronger than the actual relationship. I never shared any of the real details of my life because I knew that a narcissist does not care about others - I knew this the whole time. Within the last few weeks I have finally extracted myself from the remaining contact that I have had with one of the relatives and it is like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I no longer want to have anything to do with that family. I will no longer be the shoulder to cry on, I will invest my time with like-minded friends, not spend my limited resources on those who are undeserving of my attention and kindness.
1. I have learned a lot
2. I will never do that again
3. I have no ownership whatsoeverI have released the guilt and the anger and I am ready to take on whatever life has to offer me. Thank you Bryant McGill, you have put into words so eloquently, that which I could not. I cannot save everyone. In future, those who need my help will have to earn every bit that I give. My energies will first and foremost go to look after myself and my family and if, after that, I have more to give, it will be on a deserving-only basis.
You Cannot Save Everyone by Bryant McGill
"Should you help someone who is reaching out and deeply-hurting? Absolutely. Do what you can to help people but have the wisdom to accept your limits. You can only do so much. You should never have a relationship based on guilt over someone's poor choices. It is so easy to find ourselves in denial about someone's behavior because we so deeply wish they could escape their pain and suffering. But what we want for others doesn't work unless they want it for themselves. People must save themselves, and you can only help a person who really wants it and is ready. You have permission to walk away from anything that doesn't feel right. Trust your instincts and listen to your inner-voice — it's trying to protect you. Never stop sharing your love with people; that's why you were put on Earth. But sometimes the way to share your love is to let someone go. Staying in an unhealthy relationship can keep a person from finding their own way and moving to the next level of their own path — and that person could even be you. Sometimes the best way to save someone is to walk-away. Real love sometimes means saying goodbye.
Your life was meant for more than being a life-long doormat for deadbeats, losers, gossipers, nay-sayers, dream-crushers, energy vampires, users, abusers, ragers and passive-aggressive backstabbers. Some of these people are rabidly-infected with obvious madness. Some have less obvious ways, such as the "helpful" enabler, who sends you off to your destruction with a helping hand and a smile. Some are "doubt-whispers," who plant the seeds of non-belief in your heart to take root, so they can then console you in your inevitable moment of defeat. There are also perpetual victims who feed on your constant attention. Call them what you want, you know exactly who I am talking about. One thing always reveals their sometimes hidden identity — after you have been around them, how do you feel; have you been depleted and drained or energized and inspired?
A person at peace can immediately recognize a consciousness in crisis, whereas those in crisis cannot fully understand themselves or others. This is the eternal challenge with ignorance — ignorance can't see itself. People often turn away from good advice because they need something another person can never give them — discovery. As much as we would like to help others avoid pain, sometimes we have to let go and allow them to receive their painful lessons. Suffering is one of life's great teachers. You cannot save people from themselves. All you can do is stand firmly in your hopes for them, with compassion.
I know you want to be a good person and be helpful to people in need, but it's impossible to give to others if you have been used-up. Being a good person has nothing to do with allowing people to destroy you. There are limits. You can best help others from a position of strength, not weakness. So, don't forget to be good to yourself first. Don't forget to take care of you! It is never cruel to want to save yourself from being swamped by fools. You cannot save everyone. Some people are going to destroy themselves no matter how much you try to help them. Their lives are full of emptiness, chaos and dysfunction, and they will bring their misery and pain into your life with full-force if you allow it. Then there are others who have the outward appearance of success and are seemingly not self-destructive in nature. These people do not destroy themselves, but instead survive through the destruction of others — these are the users. Either of these types of people will latch-on to you in a death-spiral and take you down to the depths of hell with them. This is your life and you have the right and responsibility to make good decisions for yourself.
You must firmly, absolutely and ruthlessly protect your safety and sanity. Misery loves good company, so if you are surrounded with drama, gossip and fools you may want to consider that you are presently at risk of becoming one of them. The real zombie-apocalypse is the pandemic of drama and mediocrity. Troublemakers will infect you with the malady of their madness. And especially, if your positivity immune system is low, any exposure to a person afflicted with negativity can poison your life. You have to get these people out of your life once and for all. One of the fastest ways you can profoundly change your life is to rid yourself of toxic people. When you do come in contact with one of these people run for your life. Get to safety. Meditatively and spiritually decontaminate yourself. Scrub down your brain with a wire-brush and remove their insanity from the corridors of your mind. Inoculate yourself immediately by creating a safe space and aligning yourself with healthy people. If you have to go it alone for a while until you find your healthy tribe and chosen family, that is fine. Being alone is much better than being around negative people out of loneliness or desperation.
Boundaries and risk management are very important parts of living a healthy and positive life. Even professionals like therapists, psychologists and social workers limit their exposure to their clients and draw boundaries. What makes you think you can handle unlimited exposure to toxic people and survive? You can still be a charitable person who helps and cares about people, without helping those very people destroy your life. Learn how to draw a line and learn how to enforce it. Get selfish and take care of you. Cleanliness and order is good Feng Shui which applies to people even more than to the things in your life. You must clear out what you don't want, to make room for what you do want to arrive. The way to send a clear message that you are ready for better people in your life is the kick the rascals to the curb. We strive our whole lives to love people unconditionally, but sometimes we need to get rid of people unconditionally. The intimate space of your personal life should be reserved for amazing, beautiful, radiant souls — good, wholesome and loving people. Your truest family is your chosen family, people with whom you most identify. Make a clear decision on the type of people you want in your life and if they don't make the cut, then create some distance. It doesn't matter if it is a close relative, parent or child-hood friend; no matter the history — when people are toxic, disruptive and dysfunctional with no reasonable signs of recovery, then they need to go. Sometimes, to escape a bad relationship and reclaim our lives, we have to break a piece of our heart off, like a wolf chews its leg off to escape a steel trap. Love toxic people from a distance.
Now could be the time to walk away; hell, you may even need to run. Haven't you been listening to your inner-voice? Be honest, your gut has been screaming but you have been ignoring it. How much more of your life are you going to throw-away for a lie? Accept it. Some people never change. Some people have abusive, negative, controlling tendencies in their blood; they are wired for havoc, bickering and deception. They know of no other way to interface with others except through their created chaos. Chaos is their home-court advantage where they play their mind-games so they can have power over you; it's a rigged game you can never win. They will wear you ragged and bring you to your knees emotionally and physically. In time they will destroy every wonderful thing you have in your life. You are in danger: your health, your peace of mind, your happiness and maybe even your life. There is more than one way to lose your life; quickly through violence, or fettered-away and wasted around dreadful, toxic people. You must take control of your life and make good decisions for yourself. The insanity must end, for your sake and for theirs.
Sometimes a person needs us to abandon them, but we hang-on anyway, which can be devastating for both parties. Helping others can sometimes even be a convenient distraction from addressing our own unresolved issues. When someone you know is so toxic and destructive that they are poisoning your life, you have to create some distance. They need you to walk away as much as you need it. People who are out of control desperately need to observe your healthy boundaries in-play to learn from your example. You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours on them. There is a difference between giving-up and strategic disengagement. Know the difference. Learn how to let people go. Stop holding-on to the wrong people. Let them go on their own way; if not for you, then for them.
You can help others once you are safe, secure and successful in your own life. Practically every successful person you know of is successful, in part, because they moved the destructive and disruptive people out of their lives. Successful people carefully manage their energy and associations; they are gatekeepers. Who you allow into your life, mind and heart are among the most important decisions you will ever make. Take inventory of the people with whom you spend the most time. Who you spend your time with is who you are, or who you will soon become. Limit your exposure to unhealthy and unsupportive people. Love yourself enough to say no to people who diminish your chances for a beautiful and empowered life. Sometimes you have to get away from what you know to discover what you don't know. It is time for the abuse, control, lies and negativity to end. Align yourself with a new tribe of healthy people who are supportive of your highest good and potential. Find the people who are living the positive lifestyle you wish for yourself and who share your values, and create a new family of friends that you can call, "home." Your new positive and supportive tribe will edify you, strengthen you and empower you to serve others in ways you would have never before imagined. Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others. It is not too late for you. It is never too late to begin loving yourself again. It is never too late to have the life you deserve. Healing for everyone begins with self-love — starting right now."
Jenni & Bryant on Healthy Relationships (Audio)
If you have had a hard time you will love these:
You have the heart of a warrior and you were designed to survive!
Every positive thought is a silent prayer which will change your life.
A FEW SUPPORTIVE QUOTES
"From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead."
— Anais Nin
"It takes a lot more courage to let something go than it does to hang on to it, trying to make it better. Letting go doesn't mean ignoring a situation. Letting go means accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, resistance, or a struggle for control."
— Iyanla Vanzant
"You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people."
— Joel Osteen
"Inoculate yourself from dangerous bozos."
— Guy Kawasaki
"End it now! Don't waste another minute dealing with a toxic, negative, energy-draining person. Some people are wired for negativity. They love being argumentative, combative and abusive. Run for your life as quickly as possible. Life is too short and unpredictable to deal with these emotional vampires. They feed off of stressing you out, raising hell and creating drama for you. The toxic energy will turn your hair gray overnight, cause you to gain weight and rob you of your health. Don't waste valuable time trying to change them. Change yourself and get them out of your life! Don't say a word; leave all of your belongings if you have to in the middle of the night. Cut off all communication. Don't take their calls. You have heard all the lies before. They will not change. They don't choose to change. It is who they have decided to be. Move to another city, if you must, and start all over again. Your life is worth it. You deserve to have peace of mind, a great relationship and an exciting life. Watch how dramatically your life will change for the better once you get this burden off your back. The air you breathe will become fresh and invigorating. You will feel an infusion of exuberance, energy and love for life. With this stifling, suffocating and controlling person out of your life, get ready to live again and be the person that you've always wanted to be. Live life on your own terms, not having to answer to anyone but yourself. Control your own destiny."
— Les Brown
"Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny."
— Steve Maraboli