Can We Be Too Empathetic

I empathize.  Actually, I am an empathy-aholic.  There I’ve said it.  It’s not that I do it on a conscious level.  It comes automatically from somewhere deep inside my brain, I suppose.  I think I have some idea of where it comes from and how I got trained into being this way but, it hasn’t stopped me from doing it yet.

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Being empathetic is a good way to understand others and what they may be going through.  When we draw on our own experiences with issues or situations that we’ve been through, the idea is that perhaps, we can more fully understand and help in some way, those who are traveling down paths that we’ve been down.  At the least, we can imagine what they must be feeling and offer them some form of help one way or another.

Sadly, that’s not how it always works out and there’s good reason for it not always being the case or a help for that person.

We are not that person and no two people are exactly alike.

No one is you or will experience things the way that you do.  Some will take things harder than you would while others will experience those same experiences to a lighter degree than we do.  A lot will depend upon the person, themselves as well as what other experiences they’ve had in their lives.  We’re all created differently.  What soothes me may make you simply annoyed.  What calms you may make me question other things happening because I’ve had a different set of experiences than you and therefore, see and feel things differently.  What your friend, loved one, partner or spouse might feel, you’re not necessarily going to feel the same way.  Vice versa, you may have had a set of life encounters and dealings or issues that your friend, loved one, partner, neighbour or whomever may not have had and you may react far more towards certain things than they will as a result of those things.

Possibly the best thing one can remember or keep in mind is that what you felt during something you’ve experienced, may or may not be what the other person has or is feeling.  Empathizing internally or externally with that person or group of people might be fruitless for them and you because they’re not feeling or reacting the way that you imagine they would be for all of the above reasons.

Trying to feel what someone else may be feeling won’t necessarily help them but, it can hurt you when done too often and to excess.

Each of us in this life will have our own sets of baggage to carry around or deal with.  No one alive is baggage free.  If we’re metaphysical or spiritual or religious, we can put it down to the fact that each of us has a certain number of lessons to learn.  In other words, we need to go through what we have to go through for some Cosmic reason that we’re unaware of as a “lesson” of sorts.

If we’re not spiritually inclined or religious, we can say that perhaps, what circumstances we’re in, we’re in because of choices that we or others around us have made or are making.  If that’s the case, it’s often up to us to either find a way to cope with it or to make other choices wherever possible.

Whatever the case is, we’re all going to be dealt some good and some crappy hands in this poker game we call, Life.  Some will get more cruddy hands than others will.  Is the luck of the draw or our own personal choices or, is it the choice of something or someone else or higher than us?  Often we’ll never know which but we can decide how we deal with it one way or another.

While we can try to give advice or opinions to others we cannot climb into their skin and brains with them or do it for them.  Not only is that not a healthy way for that person to deal with things but, it’s not healthy for us either.

Simply put, we cannot take on everyone else’s burdens, problems or issues too lest we become over-burdened.  Emotional and mental health is fragile when we take on too much of anything.  Certainly, trying to feel what someone else or even everyone else around us is feeling and trying to take some of the weight off of their shoulders, is unhealthy and unhelpful more often than not.  Do that enough times, with enough people and we’ve got a recipe for disaster for ourselves.

Those we empathize with, often move on and out of situations while we’re left feeling dragged out, worn out and depressed.  

Many times now, I’ve worked hard at trying to help someone out of a jam or situation by empathizing with them so that I can draw on my own feelings and experiences to do so.  Unfortunately, I’ve done it with everyone around me at the same time while trying to deal with my own too.  I can say first-hand that it’s not a good nor, healthy thing to do as I’ve been left feeling overwhelmed, burdened, even ill and it’s not solved the other person’s issues.

Worse than that, I’ve found that once I’m a mess, those people I empathized with so heavily, have found a way to deal with their situations and moved on in their lives while I’m laying in a ball, trying to pick up my own pieces.

Human Nature wants equilibrium and will seek it out.

Most people will have to endure some not so lovely experiences.  We all have to face deaths of loved ones if we live long enough to see it or, we’ll all have money issues at some point or another unless we’re born with a proverbial silver spoon in our mouths and a never-ending stream of funds coming our way.  We’ll all feel the sting of rejection from one source or another, one type or another. We’ll all get sick even with only a cold.  We’re all going to die.  That’s the bottom line to Life here.  We’re all going go through negative spots or many.  The reality is, we will all seek out a more comfortable way of feeling and being.  Unless we have a true mental illness that keeps us in one state of mind, we’re going to automatically seek out feeling better and do whatever it takes to feel that way.  It’s part of Human Nature.  No one wants to feel down or depressed forever and we’ll do whatever it takes to feel better for the most part.  Empathizing with someone only takes the energy out of you in this case because:

  1. You can help but you cannot change someone else’s situation, pain, hurt or whatever they are going through.  That is their path to go down.  You can’t change it by trying to feel what they are feeling.
  2. By the time you’ve worn yourself out empathizing, they’ve likely found other ways to deal with their situations or emotions.  If they haven’t already done that, they eventually will.
  3. Because of the first point and the second, you’re doing no one any good except to weaken yourself to your own challenges in Life.

 

Not many will empathize with you in the same way nor to the same extent so, why not reserve some energy for your own struggles? 

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Have you ever noticed that you’re always there for others during their times of crises but, when you need someone or some help, everyone you’ve turned somersaults for during their bad times, is suddenly “too busy” to be there when you need someone?  I’m sure many of us can relate to this one unless we’ve led a rather selfish existence in not helping other soul.  Not many people can or will say that.

Not that we expect something in return when we try to help other people but, we would hope that the kindnesses that we’ve shown others will be returned to some extent or another should we ever need something.  However, that’s often not the case.  The question always begs, why doesn’t that happen?

“I’ve given and given to this person and that person and the other one down the street but, when I needed one simple favour, there was no one around,” you may be saying right now.  “As a matter of fact, the only time I’ve had someone help me, it’s been only half of the effort that I’ve put into them or less.  I don’t get it!”

You’re not alone in wondering why that is but, there’s often a simple answer.

You’ve been far too kind or generous with your time and emotions and, you’ve thought of others in ways that they don’t think about you or anyone else for that matter most of the time.  

If the truth is told, not many people can or will even attempt to empathize with you the way that you have done with or for them.  That doesn’t necessarily make them selfish but, it does stand as a lesson that putting too much effort into someone else, is not only not necessary but, it doesn’t get you anywhere except a lot of being overwhelmed then, frustrated and disappointed.  It’s time for you to turn down the volume a bit on your pouring out of empathy towards others.  That’s not to say that you don’t care about others but, it’s saying that you have to put yourself up there in the ranking of first place because while others may help you, they’re not going to take your problems over.  You need your emotional strength for your own issues.

Some points to remember:

  • It’s ok to understand what others might be going through on a “cerebral level” but, it’s not healthy for either of you to reach down inside yourself and try to feel what the other person is feeling.
  • If someone is in a hole, jumping into it with them (via empathy) is only trapping both of you.  You’re far more helpful to that person to stay safely on the side, being their for them to throw them down a rope so that they can climb out versus you being in there with them.
  • Expecting others to empathize with you in the same way or to the same extent as you’ve done for them, is not only unhealthy but unreasonable to expect because no one is you or can feel like you do and, not many people will be able to or even want to try.  Most people are in this world to look after themselves first and foremost.  Help but, don’t jump into that pit with them because they likely won’t do the same for you when or if you needed that kind of help.
  • There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy.  Sympathy is the ability to feel sorrow for what one is going through without the extra step of actually trying to put yourself in their shoes and feeling what they may be feeling.  Too much sympathy can be unhealthy too but, it’s easier to recuperate from and less intrusive to your life than full empathy.
  • You don’t need to feel what other people are feeling nor, can you really feel what they may be feeling.  As explained above, no two people are alike and even though they may be going through what you’ve been through, their other experiences in life as well as their personalities are going to shape how they react to a situation.  It’s rather fruitless, unhelpful and unhealthy for you to try to put yourself in their emotional shoes because they likely not only won’t fit but, it doesn’t help them or you.  Throw them a rope and let them climb out of the hole they’re in.
  • Look after your own needs first and think about yourself because not many people in your life will be there for you 24/7, trying to feel what you’re going through.  Those who have been there in their own experiences don’t want to re-visit it and those who haven’t, can’t feel what you’re feeling to help.  More to the point, not many will even try.

From my little corner of life, I see helping others as something that should be done when your own needs have been met and you’re able to emotionally be strong.  It does not mean hurling yourself into an emotional tailspin.  No one need do that to help others.  Heaven knows that were doctors, nurses, police officers, first responders, fire fighters etc., were to do that, they’d be crippled and couldn’t do their jobs after one or two incidents.

Do yourself and other people a favour.  Stay healthy by helping others in a healthy way.  Empathy has its place but, it’s limited.

Be well.  Love and Light.

 

 

Happiness Part V: We Know Too Much

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Day in and day out, we are being bombarded with information.  Some of it will be correct and some of it will prove to be incorrect yet, we will absorb it all as though through osmosis.  Whether we are truly paying attention or we’re subliminally and subconsciously picking it up, we have most of that info, rumbling around in our brains somewhere and it’s acting upon us like a slow release pill, coming out in dribs and drabs. It’s likely that we don’t even recognize that info is there or that we’re utilizing it in one way or another.  Our brains are wonderous machines with a filing system that makes computers look like toys.  Reality is, we know far more than we need to know and it’s causing us both stress and distress.  It’s a road block to being happy.

Remember back a few entries ago when the scenario of children being happy was the centre point of that piece?  If not, you can review it here.  Part of the reason that children are generally happy is that they don’t know enough to be un-happy.  Not only have the brains of children not developed enough but, they don’t know enough to be upset, stressed, worried or any of the adult things that we, as adults, have come to learn to do.  They live in moment because they can’t really foresee much trouble in the future.  Ignorance is sometimes, bliss.

Let me give a scenario here that may help demonstrate that point better.

Two men are in a car, stuck on railway tracks.  They cannot move back nor forward.  The elder gentleman in the car has a form of dementia and is busily reminiscing about days gone by that he remembers with fondness.  The younger gentleman, fully able to compute the dangers of what is happening, is trying not to frighten the older man while trying to start the car again with no success.  Off in the distance, he sees the faint lights of an oncoming train and keeps trying to start the car, filled with panic now.  The elder man is completely unaware of what is happening and continues on his trip down memory lane with pure joy and delight, laughter and a smile while beads of sweat drip down the younger man’s forehead.  Finally, in vain, as the train approaches rapidly, the younger man exits the car, opens the door of the passenger’s side and drags the old man out of the car to safety.  The train soon demolishes the car into a tangled heap of metal before coming to a stop.  The young man tries to catch his breath while the elder gentleman simply says, “why did you stop me?  I wasn’t finished my story.”  Both men experienced the same situation.  The difference in their reactions were simply that the younger man knew what was going to happen while the elder man was blissfully unaware of the danger lurking down the tracks.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be aware of dangers or ignorant of facts nor, uneducated.  What it is saying is that we are overloaded with information that oftentimes, is false, misleading and most importantly, un-needed.  We can’t be child-like because we now know too much.  As a matter of fact, we know more than we really need to know and that, in and of itself, causes stress, distress and un-happiness.  We are now incapable of simply living in the moment and being amused with simple things like the taste of our coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, the clouds that are floating past us above, the purr of our cat, the sound of a stream, a song that we love or many other of the most soothing and amusing things in Life.  Instead, we are analyzing everything silly, thinking about what lays ahead, how much damage it’s doing to us and the world, some study that proves that the caffeine in our wonderful tasting coffee can kill us or how the water in our bottle of water might pollute the earth or be polluted by the chemicals in the plastic bottle or wax that lines the paper take-out cup is toxic.  We’re usually reading or listening to the news which is filled with doom and gloom as that is what sells air/paper time and we’re using technology devices such as our cell phones to look up more crazy-making information.  The list is endless as to how information is slowly not only taking away our happiness and ability to be happy but, is potentially causing us stress that will or could kill us sooner or later.

How many shootings do we need to hear about before we can say, “there’s a lot of kids, killing others with guns”?  How many studies have we all heard, read or talked about that eventually get reversed or at the least, changed because newer studies have proven differently and yet, we’ve given up that great tasting coffee or bread or eggs and, it’s now not only ok to have them but, we find out we should have been having them all along as they’re beneficial to us?  How many car accidents do we need to see on the news at night with people we never met, don’t know and never will know before we get the idea that driving a car in today’s world and in traffic or driving distracted or impaired, can kill us? Do we really need 24/7 news stations that cover a story live and have “experts” on panel to discuss every nuance of the situation?

The bottom line is that we have far too much information floating around in our heads that not only don’t serve us beyond simply having a fact/knowledge but, are harming us in one way or another.  It’s all certainly a stumbling block towards being happy.

If you want to feel a bit happier,

  • Turn off the news or put down that newspaper
  • Quit Googling or Binging or whatever search engine you use for a bit
  • Turn off your cell phone or use it to actually CALL a friend or relative and enjoy talking to them instead of texting or ignoring them.
  • Stop taking every study too seriously because it will eventually turn out to be changed or reversed by another that will follow.
  • Either turn up your favourite music and sing or dance with it or, listen to the birds chirping, the stream sounds or your cat purring for a change
  • Watch a comedy or inspirational movie instead of a horror, police or crime show
  • Read a book or story with an inspirational message behind it
  • Buy yourself an adult colouring book and colour for a change.  Heck, get out the crayons and colour a child’s colouring book.
  • Ditch the “Know-It-Alls” who are walking encyclopedias but, are as negative as hell
  • Limit time with or eliminate those people who are bringing you nothing but headaches or demands for you doing something for them
  • Spend more time with people who make you feel good and most of all, make you laugh
  • Get silly. Roll down a hill, play with toys, splash around in a local pool just for the fun of being in water and weightless or buy yourself a teddy bear.  Seriously.
  • Stay out of your head and thinking for even an hour a day.  Just pay attention to things around you that are soothing and relaxing.  If you can’t find that, find them in your memory bank.  They’re there, believe it or not.
  • Be thankful for what you have right now even if it’s not your dream situation
  • Set aside a worry time of 20 minutes where you write your worries out into a dollar store notebook then shut the journal and tell yourself worry time is over until your next planned session then, get on with something light, silly and funny

These are just a few ideas.  There are plenty more.  If you’re going to Google anything, search for ways to have fun.

Stay light, stay laughing, stay away from people or information that brings you down to a stressed out level as much as possible.  Just be.  Be in the moment and enjoy the little things in Life.  Be happy!

Blessings, Love and Light from my little corner of life to yours.

 

You Shouldn’t Have To Chase People To Hear What’s Going On

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I’ve recently had a slew of people in my life, coming to me with their life’s issues, wanting to tell me their entire sordid lot of problems.  I listen, worry, fret and work on how to help them out, only to figure out that there’s been no updates as to the status of those issues since and go on to feel like I’m chasing them down to hear the outcomes or updates.  That’s when I am made to feel as though I am meddling for having followed up with it all.

Well, excuse me for caring!  Isn’t that what you wanted me to do?

Maybe, I am the insane one but, to me, if you’re going to call me with all of your problems and get me caring about you, be prepared to have the common courtesy of at least letting me know that you’ve solved it, moved on or plain and simply have gotten past it.  If I give you the care and time of day to listen to it all, you’d better have the decency to return the concern by saying, “oh, hey…just filling you in….” and give me something to put closure to the situation within myself too.  Otherwise, it’s much like getting caught up in an intense movie, getting to the climax of the plot line and never seeing or knowing the ending.  The adrenalin is there.  The muscles are tensed up.  The want is there but, there’s nothing to relieve those wonderings.

Worst of all, it’s like they’ve disappeared off the planet, never to be gotten ahold of again or until the next drama happens and they find your address or phone number again.

I know all of us just need to vent sometimes and once we’ve done that much, we oftentimes, find a way of dealing with the situation or it resolves itself.  However, when you’ve filled someone who cares, earful of your troubles and woes, recognize that you should at least give that person a shout-out to let them know how it all turned out one way or another.  You obviously knew that they cared or you wouldn’t have called or gotten in touch with them to begin with.  A wall or an old pillow to punch would have suited the same purposes if you didn’t really intend on anyone worrying about your issues and you.  Admit it.  You wanted someone to care and be sympathetic, if not, empathetic.  Misery tends to love company, right?

Worse than that is when I’ve had to chase down those very same people, hours, days and even into weeks later, not only not getting ahold of them or, having them return messages and being concerned enough that my own life has been interrupted in one way or another but, to have that person finally get back to me and give the impression that I’ve somehow “meddled” by asking them how they’re now doing.  It’s like I’ve slapped them in the face and taken up their time.  Of course, apparently, the time they took up in my life and the emotional space that they took up in my life, has no meaning whatsoever it seems.

The last straw on the proverbial camel’s back hit me more recently when a couple of close friends had taken up inordinate amounts of my time, energy, worry, concern and empathy in hearing all of their problems then, had disappeared from my radar for a period of time, leaving me wondering if they were ok, or whether they’d simply solved their issues.  I had to chase them down to find out, only to get a snappy, “yeah, everything’s fine but, I’m busy right now,” response.  It was as though I had laid my problems in their laps, taken up their time, energy, sympathy, empathy and whatever else and they were cutting me off.  Guess what?  They have now worn their welcome out with me on listening to any future issues they may have.  I learned that I cannot take them seriously anymore nor, can I take their worries to heart.  I am not a punching bag and I’m certainly not a wall.

If you have issues with people similarly to this, here are a few tips on how to deal with these types of situations.

  • Recognize who is worthy of your time and energy.  If they haven’t given you their time and energy in equal proportion, don’t give yours to them either.  Be polite and listen to the Reader’s Digest version of their issues but, cut it off there and as quickly as they would with you.
  • Ask yourself if this person is prone to “drama/attention seeking”.  There’s plenty of people out there who thrive on “drama” and just love the attention that it gets them.  If the person laying their issues into your lap is one of those people, run, don’t walk and don’t second guess yourself.  There will be a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” situation or two that you might miss but, trust me, they have plenty of other people they have on strings for this purpose and use on a regular basis.  If you miss a real issue, that’s their problem. Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.
  • Is this person a regular part of your life in good times as well as bad or, are they only around you when they want to bend your ear with their problems or get help somehow?  If someone rarely calls you or gets in contact with you during their good things in life and only contacts you when things are looking like they’re up to their armpits in despair, it’s a good sign that they are relying upon you to listen to their issues only.  If they’re not there to share their good times with you, why should you be there to handle the bad times?  Let those they are around in their good times, be the ones who are there for them during their “bad times” too.  These people have had the benefits, let them have the detriments too.
  • If you’re only hearing the problems and not the outcomes of them, there’s a good chance that you were simply a convenience at that moment and they weren’t truly that upset over things they yapped about at that moment.   People love to just vent their problems at a moment when they’re most upset and more often than not, will do their complaining into your ear, feel better for having done it then, move onto other things once you’re gone, they’re gone or they’ve finished their monologue and gotten your sympathies, agrees or your empathy.  They feel better while leaving you feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mac truck.  Either learn to do other things, letting it all go in one ear and out the other, not letting anything they say, stick or cut them off as soon as possible.  If you have Caller ID on your phone and know that they have a tendency to do this with you already, don’t answer the phone or look at their Facebook messages or emails.  The mere fact (if they’re within person to person contact distance) that they’re not making an effort to get together with you, means that they really just want that ear to blow off steam into and, can’t be bothered to get together with you because it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things to them.  Take that cue.
  • When you find yourself and that little inner voice saying, “why am I listening to this”, you have a sure fired sign that deep, down inside of you, you know this person’s M.O. from past encounters.  Listen to the little voice within you, not them, give a cutoff and get away or try to change the subject if you want to talk to them further.  Don’t let them drone on and on again.
  • If you have to chase them down to find out what happened or what the outcome was, there likely wasn’t anything to be concerned about in the first place.  If this person hasn’t gotten back to you with what’s going on after you’ve listened and tried to help and you don’t know the outcome, don’t chase them down to find out.  Realize that if they got in touch with you to tell their stories of woe to you, they would also get back in touch with you to let you know there were still issues.  Assume that they’ve worked it out somehow or it’s been solved and everything is ok then, learn not to be concerned about them or their troubles any further.  People like that will always seek you out again if they’re still in trouble.  At the very least, they will seek out others.  Let them.  Just take it off of your plate.  They likely have.
  • If you have chased them down to find out and they’re not answering you or they have totally minimized what that was all about at that point or, worst of all, they act like you are taking up their time by following up with them, don’t bother listening to them again after that.  These types of people are “users”.  They will vent to whomever will give them an ear and they have abused your kindness to them.  Don’t extend them any further generosities after that.  If they truly wanted someone to care and cared about the benevolence that you have shown them, they would be thinking, “I’d better update (insert your name here) because she/he was concerned about me”.  If they aren’t concerned enough to inform you about what happened with that situation, they really aren’t all that appreciative of you.  And please, don’t take the old, “I was going to call you and let you know what happened but, I got busy or, I forgot” lines.  That’s crap, bull and translated means, “I am fine, have moved on and didn’t give a flying sh*t what you were thinking or feeling after that.”

Most of all, value yourself and your own time so that people like this won’t take further advantage of you.  You’re not being paid to be their therapists or caregivers and from my little corner of life,  or worry about them.  You don’t owe it to them to find out how something turned out after you’ve given them your time and energy in hearing and listening to it all, trying to help.  That’s their responsibility and courtesy/thanks to you for doing so.  Pay attention to what has happened from here on out and make note of it then, learn from it and let it go.  They have.  Trust me on that one.

Have a great day.  From my corner of life to yours.

 

Is Your Child Involved In An Enmeshed Relationship With Someone?

bad relationship

Our children can be our worst haters and abusers especially, when they have chosen to become involved in what one could term as an “enmeshed relationship” with a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse.  Even adult children can turn into seeming monsters who can make us out to be The Devils Incarnate, out to ruin their lives while in one of these types of relationships.

My own daughter, now a fully grown woman, has been involved in a relationship with an issue riddled man, living with him for nearly 7 years.  As parents, my husband and I, both tried to get her to see the fact that this man was most definitely carrying a lot of “emotional baggage” and begged her to wait before making a move in with him.  Of course, both of us as parents, were turned inside out and made into demons in her mind.  Let’s just say that she didn’t have that opinion of us before he entered her life and she had a lot of help in doing so but, must have wanted that end for some reason or another.  The question we set out to figure out was the “why” behind it all.

We watched our daughter go from a loving, giving, thoughtful person who prided herself on her accomplishments in life to someone we didn’t recognize anymore.  She stopped taking care in her appearance, became preachy, holier than thou, appeared sullen, negative, took up weed smoking, lost all of her substantial savings, moved into a tiny, over priced, broken down apartment, racking up debt on her credit card, putting on weight, sleeping every other night on a mattress on the floor or a spring bare couch, dropping all of her friends and becoming a recluse who watched downloaded television programs or documentaries that The Jerk had spent his entire day working on instead of focusing on working.  This once vital, beautiful and ambitious young woman had now become a version of the lazy, un-driven, un-ambitious, debt riddled, pothead she was living with who had no friends of his own and had literally been thrown out by his own parents on several occasions, no longer welcome in their home because he “caused too much trouble for the family and wouldn’t change.”

We spent close to a year without her wanting to speak to us.

“We’re enmeshed,” she screamed out one night after having tried to throw a bowl of salad from our dinner table across the room while visiting us for dinner then, picking up a chair to hit me with while I stopped her and having stopped her again in mid-swing as she attempted to strike me for the first time ever in her life and ushering her to our front door where I  told her that violence would not be tolerated by us in any way. At that very moment, I realize that this person was most definitely not the daughter I had loved and raised.  There was not even a physical resemblance of her remaining visible in any way or sense of the word and, that was the most frightening part of all of this.  We had not only lost her physically but, we had lost our daughter as a person.

For over a year, I sought out counselling for myself.  Had we, as parents, done something wrong?  Were we bad parents?  What was this term “enmeshed” and was I doing it to her?  I had no clue but, I certainly was more than willing to figure it out and if we were at fault, I was determined to find a way to rectify the matter with her any way necessary and even him, if that was warranted.

A year’s worth of therapy, research and journalling, looking back at her childhood and being kicked by her through nasty, ill-tempered emails that cut me to the core during a period of grieving where I was already on the ground after the sudden and accidental death of my brother at the young age of 53 years, I realized that it wasn’t us as parents who were to blame for this entire fiasco and shambles of a parent-child relationship that was left behind.  Nor, was her anger, bitterness or sudden lack of caring about herself or others.  This was totally the work of a master manipulator and sick person…the man she was living with.  She was ‘enmeshed’ with him and with his chronic use of pot as well as heaven knows what other substance he possibly used.  We knew that she was also now heavily into it all as well.

For those who don’t know what the term “enmeshment” means, the short-hand version is similar to the idea of people who become entangled in one another’s lives so greatly that they forget where they begin and the other person(s) end.  While there are many different types of enmeshments and every family possesses some form of it to one degree or another, the definition, for my purposes, is an exaggerated form of dependency on someone else for your own enjoyment of life or to fit an unmet need on one end while other(s) feel guilty if they don’t meet those needs.  In a simplified version, it’s some what a form of “co-dependency”.

“Keep your friends close.  Keep your enemies even closer.”  

It’s uncertain who came up with the phrase above but, my husband and I decided that in spite of our own hurt and anger, we were best to keep this messed up man and our daughter in our sight even though we had never said that he wasn’t welcome and had been allowing him around, just not his weed or whatever he and she had gotten into.  With a lot of tongue biting and swallowing blood, we simply did our best to tolerate the dirt bag being around us when needed/required and saw her on non-occasions on her own when she’d grace us with her presence.

Over the next 3 or 4 years, we had them for dinners and occasions, taking them out and paying the bills for it all, even buying her new clothing for work, new coats and boots, giving her money for what she needed, personally but, refusing to pay off their debts when asked to co-sign for a loan for them both or, provide them with money for first and last month’s rent on a year’s lease on another apartment when our daughter temporarily gave him an ultimatum to shape up or she’d ship out.  We smiled, gritted our teeth and put up with comments from him that we would never accommodate from anyone else for the most part.  We even bought him gifts for birthdays and Christmases so that our daughter couldn’t say we were treating him poorly and yet again, allow him to convince her to walk out on us.  We were keeping her close and him…closer.

Over the next 4 years, things went from bad to worse.  The jerk came to dinners with our families, dressed like he’d rolled out of bed, thrown on the first thing he’d stepped on, hair uncombed, unshaven, brown teeth and wreaking of weed and B.O..  We are far from wealthy but, in spite of the fact that we struggled financially, we bought him clothing as gifts with which he could wear to be presentable had he wanted to and, despite it all fitting him with his declaration that he liked it all, he refused to wear anything except his old, faded, stained, overly small, psychedelic rock t-shirts, dirty blue jeans which didn’t button or zipper properly due to his large weight gain over the past few years to even semi-formal restaurants with us and family.  To us, that showed a total lack of respect for not only us but, the family and more importantly, our daughter.  Yet, we still kept on permitting him to be with us until every last one of our family and friends had been so completely insulted by him verbally and they refused to have anything further to do with him.  Some wondered if we’d lost our minds and perhaps, we had.

The final blow came between Thanksgiving of this year and our daughter’s birthday where he had been thrown out of his own parent’s home for the final time because he became abusive with them when they refused to allow him to smoke weed at their home and our daughter, who had backed him up, was ejected with him.  The writing was on the wall then.  It became an “I’m not with my family so, I’m going to see to it that you’re not going to see yours either” type of campaign.  He pulled out a hash/weed wax vaporizer after dinner and was stopped by my husband whereupon, our daughter decided to back “his right to smoke up” then, proceeded to hurl insults at us and my brother to the point where my brother nearly hit him.  That was it.  It was done.  We’d all put up with more than enough from not only the jerk but, our daughter as well.  They left.

 

Since then, I’ve heard nothing from our daughter except for some nasty messages and texts where she has blamed us for everything that’s gone wrong in her life.  If she could have blamed the kitchen sink, she would have.  That’s how bad it had become.  She was now an “abuser” and I put a stop to every method of her being able to be in contact with me except by phone.  Since she was telling us that we were the source of her total discontent with her life, we decided that it was time to set her free totally. She’d have no other source other than the jerk she is with to blame eventually and given enough time and rope with which to hang himself.  At least, one can only hope.  Reality and honest given, neither my husband nor, myself can take anymore.  She’s become a bully, backed by a bully and we cannot take anymore without our own sanity and health going down the tubes.  As an adult, we don’t owe it to her to lose either of those precious things anymore.

We have no doubt that there is still a lot of fuel and mileage that this jerk will get in siding and coaching what our daughter thinks and does.  There’s no doubt that he pulls her strings and she is allowing him to hold onto them and do the dancing.  Her words do not sound like hers but rather, versions of his thinking.  It’s sounding and seeming almost as though he’s either written these messages for her or, she’s become so “enmeshed” with him that she no longer can find herself.

The main point behind the idea of enmeshment is that there are no personal boundaries and therefore, there is a loss of self.   If they can’t find their own boundaries, they will set their lines with you, according to the other person’s call instead.

Is your child in an enmeshed relationship?

“Those in an enmeshed relationship come to depend the other enmeshed person for their identity. They become so lost that they lose, or fail to develop, their sense of self.

An enmeshed person depends on the person their enmeshed with for their self-worth.”

Does your child, even adult child, appear to have left their personality by the way-side for the most part and has taken on their “other half’s” personality, habits, hobbies, manner of speaking and mannerisms to some real extent or another?

Do you not really recognize who your child is and can see that they are putting up with things or circumstances that you know they wouldn’t normally permit or want in their lives?

Are they becoming increasingly isolated from their old or own friends and making the other person’s friends and family theirs, instead?

Has your once happy child, decided that their entire childhood was nothing but, a farce or was bad for them?

Is your child seemingly finding more ways to match their childhood with that of their partner’s even though it’s incorrect to you and others who watched your child during those years?

Have they been finding ways to protect their relationship, even if it means distancing themselves from those who have loved them most throughout their lives or up until this person entered their lives?

Are you finding yourself being pushed aside in favour of the spouses/partner’s/girlfriend/boyfriend’s family?

Is your contact with your child more limited and only under certain terms or conditions?

Does your child allow their partner to speak up for them mostly or when they do speak for themselves, are you finding it sounding more like the other person than your child?

There are plenty more examples to give you hints but, if you’re noticing some or all of the above, you may be dealing with a child who has become enmeshed with their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend.  While you may not be able to get your child out of it, certainly suggesting professional therapy in some form or another for both your child or yourself is certainly a good step forward.  If nothing else, it’s up to you to set your own boundaries with your child.  You don’t need to allow them to abuse you or treat you wrongly.  Remember…this is their issue, not yours and at a certain point, it’s up to them to figure out the consequences and remove themselves from the situation.  You can only encourage them to set boundaries for themselves while setting your own.

At least, that’s been my experience thus far from my little corner of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words When It Comes to Loyalties From Friends and Family

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I’ve lost most of my family and the few members as well as friends that I have left, have little want to get together or keep in much contact, for whatever their reasons.  It’s not for lack of trying on my part but, at a certain point, I’ve come to realize that when I don’t make the effort, no one else does either.  Frankly…I’m tired and I’ve finally come to realize that I can’t make people care in spite of trying or because I’d like them to care or think that they should.

I recently had a discussion with a couple of remaining family members and friends whom I’ve done more for than I realize now I should have done. The real issue is these family members and so-called friends who proclaim to care deeply, have taken actions to distance themselves further and have therefore, shown that their words were and are hollow.  Actions speak louder than words and frankly, I have a few friends whom I’ve never met in person and done nothing for, who seem to care more and keep in touch more than those I’ve done so much for.  Strangers have shown more care at times than family and friends have shown me.

I am not about to attempt to change these dynamics anymore.  I’ve run out of fuel.  If these family members and friends don’t have the want to have a closer relationship, there is no use in exerting any further effort or energy into trying.

I give up and concede defeat that these people have been only been in my life for what I can do for them rather than true care for me as a person. Of course, there will come many times when they will need, want and expect me to be there for them again.  I, however, will not be here for them, waiting to help as I once was.  I refuse to allow myself to be used and abused any longer.  I have offered myself up on a silver platter and they have been partaking of the feast I serve up to them.  The feast is over and, further offering of myself, laying prostrate to their needs and wants is akin to throwing myself down as a doormat upon which to wipe their feet and walk away once satiated.

Do I care? Yes, of course but, I have also come to realize that I have to have a life of my own and a right to feel good about myself.  Unfortunately, I have been allowing them to  rob me of my self-esteem.

As bitter as this may all sound, it’s the clearest and healthiest thinking I’ve had in a very long time.  It was a necessary conclusion to have finally arrived at because by not having gotten there, I was allowing the life to be sucked out of me as well as to have hampered my making decisions that have needed to have been made.  I am now freed from chains to do that, finally.

A Few Things To Keep In Mind….

When people are taking from you but, not giving back, it’s time to set them free, related to you or not.

If you can see that the people you’re expending the most energy and time into, are not making the effort to be part of your life, let go.  What are you losing except your wasted time, energy, and possibly finances?

I now know that when I’m given an invitation to special occasions where there’s gifts involved, that might be the only reason that I’m being invited.  If there’s no other times in which I’m being considered or invited to get together, it’s likely only because of what I can give rather than me, myself that they want around.

When visits or calls are seemingly measured by times or numbers of times and they involve a brief visit or call then, nothing more until the next time, it’s likely to be because they are hanging on by a thread to their relationship with you so that you’re available to them and for them versus a true want to have you in their lives or any form of care about a true relationship with you.

If you’re getting the old adage, “I’m so busy…”, be careful.  You’ll likely find that they’re busy but, they’re busy making time for others they prefer to be with for whatever their reasons.  Don’t get fooled by their platitudes or excuses.  If they want to have contact with you, they will make the time.  Look more deeply at their actions with others if you have the ability to see those things.

Your own children may be using you.  We don’t like to think of our children that way but, if your grown children are only asking you to baby sit or asking you for money and you’re hardly seeing or hearing from them otherwise, they also fit into this category.  If you don’t believe me, try saying “sorry, I can’t right now” and watch their reactions.  If you haven’t heard much from them other than these occasions and, they distance themselves because you’ve said no to them, they’re showing you that they are not exceptions to those who use you.

Ask yourself how you’ve been playing into aiding these people to use you.  How have you been enabling them to continue doing it to you?  Have you been so desperate to have these relationships that you’ve literally invited them to walk on you?  If so, STOP now.  You’re not only opening the door to this type of treatment from others but, you’re also allowing them to stomp on your self-esteem and dreams for yourself.  You’ve become a literal dishrag that they’re wringing out of all sense of self-respect.

People will treat you how you teach them to treat you.  If you don’t respect yourself,  your time and your energy, no one else will either.

Start saying “no” to people like this a bit more and watch what happens.  Yes, you may lose people from your life but, ask yourself if they were ever really there for you or, was it for what you could do for them?  If it’s the latter, what are you losing?

Stop being afraid to stand up for yourself and let those who are really not there to care, walk on you.  All that you’re truly getting rid of is “the drainers/users”.  Do you really need them?

Move on with your life, with self-respect and others will follow suit.

At least, that’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life through experience and lessons learned.