When Friends Become Too Much...
Following yesterday’s Blog, “Authentic Independence,” I mentioned being cautious of certain individuals.
First, be aware and beware of individuals who suck you dry emotionally. Take inventory of who you are around and what they are doing to you, as well as what they are doing to your time. Their presence in your life may very well be fine, I’m just saying to take a look. They can help or hinder our energy that helps us take care of our own daily chores (in addition to caring for your loved one with dementia). If you are left drained, either think about limiting your time with them, or letting them go altogether. Is this a tough thing to do? Of course. Absolutely. But our time is too precious to be robbed on any level. “We meet people where they are, and sometimes we have to leave them there.” Iyanla VanZant
Secondly, if you have trusted friends who give their support and offer their help, accept it. Early on in my caregiving days/daze, I made the mistake of allowing the past to dictate my present. I didn’t have help navigating alcoholism, so my current thought process with Alzheimer’s was, ‘Why in the hell would I have help with this?’ And to a degree, it was true, I didn’t have help so I continued to do everything myself. I didn’t reach out, even when I was taking classes on dementia and included myself in support group. In a way, I was setting myself on fire to either save face, or not bother anyone, or I assumed they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, help. It absolutely was not the right thing to do because caregiving did almost kill me. The silver lining in my finally asking and accepting help was that it allowed me to know how it feels to have someone truly stand by my side while I save myself, and being able to do the same for others.
If you find yourself in a friendship or relationship that is out of balance (excluding dementia and their inability to take care of themselves), be discerning about what it is costing you to be around them emotionally and spiritually, as well as what it’s costing you with your time. If we stand by their side and help them on their “path,” and they take (in) your advice and support so they may save themselves, just be aware some will take and take and take, then do nothing to help themselves. Our path is just as important as anyone else's, and it is up to us to have boundaries and self-respect to protect it. It is a commodity we will never get back.
What is true for me: I have let many people go in order to grow, or do the things I have to do. “Caregiving” made that abundantly clear. Of course there are people we have no choice in being around; co-workers, bosses, family members, etc. I can be civil and kind, but I keep them at arm’s length. The people who hinder or who have sucked me dry emotionally, are gone – out of my life. Funny thing is, not only does the Universe support me every time I have had to make this decision, these people seem to go on just fine without me.