Helping: Doorway to Heaven Or Hell

For most of my life, I’ve tumbled somersaults for other people and mothered, mothered and mothered them.  Why, I don’t know the answer to yet but, I do know that the only thing it’s done is to both open a doorway for people to use me as well as to shun me when they don’t want or need anything from me.

Case in point are a few stray family members who will leap bounds to call or to see me if I have something that they want and am offering to give it to them.  The rest of the time, I don’t hear from them or see them.

highway to helping or hell

I was recently concerned about one person in my life who seemed to be at the end of their rope.  I worried endlessly at their words, “I’m tired…I’ve had enough of life.”  Having lost most of my family to deaths, I was worried sick that this person was going to do something I consider stupid to themselves if I didn’t do something.  As usual, I stood on my head, got them what they wanted and needed and did everything in my power to help them through this rough spot.  The calls stopped.  As a matter of fact, all contact stopped.

Now panicked and living quite a distance away from them, making a drop-by not an easy task, I phoned and left messages with no return calls.  Then suddenly, a few days ago, I received a return call, rushed and while they were driving saying, “I got your message but, I forgot to call you back.”  (Think Exorcist with Regan’s 360 degree head-spin and spewing green pea soup upon my hearing that answer.)

“You forgot?!” I answered with surprise, anger and indignation.  “You FORGOT to call me back?  I must be the most forgettable person in the world then.”

“It’s just that I’ve been so busy,” was the beginning of that answer and, I went on to hear a plethora of things that this person had been doing.  Let me just say that they weren’t the writhing ball of tears that they had been only a couple of weeks before where I had concerned my every waking moment with the thoughts that this person might end their lives.  As a matter of fact, everything sounded not only better but, normal.

Most others would have been relieved at the sound of the answers.  Don’t get me wrong, I was relieved but there was a huge part of me that felt both angry and gullible at the same time as well.

I was angry that I had yet again, been taken in by my imagined worries about someone else.  My life had been plagued by worry and fear of losing someone else in my life and that I was gullible enough to have fallen for it all.

I’m sure that at the time, what was uttered from that person’s mouth was feeling real to them.  I’m sure that their spouse was being genuine in their plight at that time as well.  However, Life went on for them beyond my help, concern and worry.  They were in a hole at that point in time but, as most people can and will do for the most part, they had found their way back to equilibrium and were living their usual lives again.

Perhaps, what bothered me most was the fact that I had spent weeks of my own life and personal energy worrying, giving of my own time, energy, thought, deed etc. seemingly needlessly, when yet again, all would have gone back to it’s usual state anyway whether or not I had been involved.  My worry for was for naught and my actions were only appreciated at that moment, not beyond that point.  I was again, faded into the background of those people’s lives as is par for the course with most people.  I seem to be the only person who has not gotten that fact yet.

I’m not by any means advocating not helping other people here.  That’s not what I’m saying by a long shot.  What I am saying is that there’s a difference between helping someone and turning your own life upside down by turning somersaults for them to help or care about them.  There is a difference as I’ve come to learn.  What’s more, I’ve learned that people will take from you if you’re going to lay yourself down and let them walk all over your emotions and empathy.  It’s one thing to help someone else.  It’s another to make it your life’s mission to become their saviour.  There was only one Mother Theresa and even she was not as appreciated in Life as she should have been or, one would think she could have been treated for all that she did.

Today, I am removing my Habit.  I have gotten up off of the floor from this latest knock-down which seems to be a recurring theme in my life due to my own choices in Life.  Somewhere I had turned myself into the World’s Mother and I needn’t have done it because if there’s one thing that I’ve come to learn, people will look after themselves for the most part.  It’s up to us to look after ourselves too rather than everyone else.

Put yourself first.  Put your own oxygen mask on first and deal with your own needs before you go leaping in to help everyone else.

From my little corner of life, taking care of everyone else to excess is a recipe for disaster for yourself as well as the people you are doing this for especially, if it’s become a way of life for you to do. It can also become quite the let-down if you think it will endear people to you.  It doesn’t necessarily work that way especially, when done to excess or constantly.  All that it does it mark yourself as a target for those who will simply take from you.  Help but, do it in only as much as absolutely needed and even then, be sure that you’re really needed before you leap in with both feet to rescue others.  You may be enabling them, making yourself a doormat or opening yourself up to being used by others.  Be discerning with who you help and how much you help.  While helping is oftentimes needed and warranted, meter it out to the right people, in the right amounts and in the right way.  When you do take care of or help others, feel good about it within yourself first and foremost, not expecting others to truly appreciate what you’ve done or how much it took you to help them.  When done in abundance, they will have pegged you as their doormat.

Remember one thing….

Helping can be the doorway to Heaven or Hell, metaphorically speaking.

Blessings, Love and Light.

Why Are The People I’ve Done The Most For Not Around Anymore?

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We all need to feel as though we matter.  As humans, we inherit a need to feel that we have some meaning, some purpose and most of all, others around us who truly appreciate us for who we are and not just what we can do for them.  Yet, all too often, we find ourselves, sitting back, alone and wondering where all of the people are who we have helped over our lifetimes.

In recent years, I have looked back at my life and recognized that the people I have done the most for or with, are no longer part of my life.  It’s not because we’ve fought and parted ways but, it appears to be more the idea that they were around me for whatever purpose I served for them during times of need and once that need no longer existed or, they’d found others to fill those needs, I was no longer of any value to them.  How sad is that, for both them and myself?

woman-wondering

Was it my fault?  Had I done far more than I should have done and they came to not have respect for me?  Did I do too much and they felt indebted in ways that they knew that they could never pay back?  Perhaps, it was more the idea that they felt somehow “less than” when they came out the other side of their problems and I reminded them of their weaker times?  And, why weren’t they around to share the good times?  Why were they only contacting me during the bad times but, were only too happy to be with others to celebrate the good in their lives?  Had I set it up for them and made it easy for them to take from me and not give back?  Had I become associated with only their problems and nothing more than that?  Did I set up those dynamics where they associated me with the problem times and nothing more?  

Is it their faults?  Were they only ever around me for what I could do for them and once they no longer had a need, I was no longer of any use to them?  Are they selfish users who took people for what they could get out of them and I was simply a sitting duck for those types of people?  Were they that shallow that they could take and use me, tossing me away like a used paper towel?  How could so many people be this selfish and inconsiderate, taking only what they need, when they needed it from me and not look back?

I don’t have the answers to all of these questions but, in hindsight, it’s likely been a combination of both me and them.  It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.  I provided the welcome mat for them to walk in on, invited them and their troubles into my world and life, treated them with total and complete empathy and concern, doing all that I could to alleviate their pain and, who could blame them for taking me up on it all?  I opened the door for them to walk right in and have someone to lean on when they needed it, not expecting anything in return.  That was my fault.  I set up those dynamics.  They took me up on it like people in trouble would naturally do and, they did it without worry or stress because I gave no indication that I expected any sort of repayment in any way.  No hooks or strings attached.

Tens of thousands of dollars given out that will never be paid back, thousands of hours spent listening, thinking, researching, helping, caregiving, planning and helping later, none of these people are still in my life.  They won’t ever be and frankly, I don’t want them back at this point but, I have no one to blame except myself for being in this situation in the first place.

There are a few cardinal rules in Life that we should remember if we don’t want to be in these types of situations.

Don’t Set Up Dynamics You Don’t Want To Continue

Once you set up a balance between yourself and someone else, you’ve set a pattern that will become entrenched. If people come to know you as someone who will always be there for them, they will continue expecting that from you.  Once you’ve done that, it is nearly impossible to turn the tables around and start over again.  They will have learned to lean on you and count on you.  STOP there.  You’ve established yourself as their go-to person in times of trouble and that’s exactly when and how they will come to you.  If you don’t want to continue with a pattern like that, don’t start it and keep it up for long.  Help but, don’t become a doormat for their problems.

Respect Yourself, Your Time, Your Energy And, They Will Too

Other people need to be taught how to treat you.  If you’re leading by example by not giving them time limits, pushing aside all of your own needs or wants and being at their beckon call constantly, you are showing them that your time, your energy and you as a person have limitless boundaries, devoted solely to them and their needs.  However, should you show them that you have a life too, (even if you’re going to sit and watch paint dry) and that your time and energy are respected by you and others, they will get the hint that they are getting something special from you…a favour, not a job.  By not setting those boundaries, you are offering yourself up on a silver platter to be used and abused.  You are essentially teaching them that you have no life beyond their needs and, heaven knows, people can tend to feel that their problems/issues are the most important thing in the world to them so, they must be to you as well since you are always there for them.

Offer Them Help…Not A Handout And Expect Something In Return

So many people in today’s world are stressed, distressed, harried and in trouble.  It’s ok to help someone out but, it’s not ok to take care of their problems for them.  Each and every one of us will have problems.  No one is without them but, the moment that we think that we can take them all over and solve them all for others, we are not only fooling ourselves but, we are robbing people of the experience and lessons of learning to solve their own problems.  If we continue to do that, they will never learn to deal with their own issues.  Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.

We wouldn’t expect our professionals or other people who solve problems to do it for free all of the time, would we?  We therefore, come to respect their ability to help us because we have to pay for it in some way.  The same holds true for people that we help.  When something is done consistently for free, it’s no longer a helping hand and we are no longer looked upon as kind and generous to have done it.  Instead, our help is looked upon as our job, not a kind-hearted favour.  Ask for something in return.  It may be a small thing. It may be something that they can do for you or, it might be that you will ask them to water your lawn while you’re on holidays or perhaps, they have a talent for something that can be asked for in return.  You need not make it a barter system but, when you’ve helped someone out, ask them for something as a form of payment.  Let them know that it’s a two-way street and that they should help you out in some way or another too or, receive some sort of payment in return as it is a favour not your job to help them.  You are not responsible for everyone else and their problems.  Unless of course, someone made you a god or a martyr.

When They Are Not Trying To Really Help Themselves, Back Up And Stop!

Sadly, there are far too many people in this world who expect a free ride and truly have no real intention of ever solving their problems even if you give them solutions right up front and start it for them.  You may even find them angry and wonder why you’re being shunned or yelled at for offering them what you might consider extremely helpful, reasonable and great advice/solutions.  There’s a reason why you’re in this mess and left befuddled.  These people never actually wanted to solve their problems in the first place.

As hard as it is to believe, there are those who love to be in trouble because they love the drama and attention that it brings them.  As fast as you can solve one problem for them, if they’ll let you, they’ll be off creating another one while you’re still wiping the sweat from your brow and cleaning up the shambles your own life has been left in while doing their work for them.  These people are the “Drama Queens/Kings” of the world who thrive on having problems and the sympathy they draw from others.  They see “SUCKER” written right across your forehead and they will stick to you like Crazy Glue has stuck them to your side.  They’ve found their audience to act out their stories of pain and suffering while you lap it up and applaud them with your empathy and sympathy, blood, sweat and tears.  They adore that from you and you’re giving it to them.

When They Walk From Your Life…Don’t Chase Them

Like me, you may be sitting back, thinking….”what have I done wrong?  Why am I alone like this when I’ve helped so many people?  I must be doing something wrong to not have people want to be around me like this.  Maybe, I need to try harder?”  If you are, stop right there.  The truth is, you have simply allowed yourself to be abused.  That’s the thing that you’ve done wrong.  If those that you’ve always been there for, have walked out of your life, there’s only really 2 reasons.  Firstly, they have solved their problems or, they have found someone else to solve them now that suits them better.  Either way, they have shown you that you were only part of their lives to do for them and help. It was never you that they loved or cared about, in spite of their many proclamations of “you are the only person I can count on…you’re such a wonderful person and I don’t know what I’d do without you” to things like “you’re more family to me than my family and I love you!”  If they ave walked from your life, they don’t truly feel those things that they’ve said.  They used it all as bait to get what they wanted from you.  They are not sincere and you don’t want them back in your life, unless of course, you enjoy being used and abused.  Don’t go looking for them.  Let them ride off into the sunset where they will likely use someone else or perhaps, many others.

What Now?  I’m Alone and Lonely!

You may be so used to helping others by now that you truly feel like you’re alone and lonely when the blood sucking users have left your life or hopefully, you’ve dumped them but, the truth is, all that you’ve really lost are people who loved what you could do for them, not you.  As sad as that may sound and feel, you haven’t lost anything good from your life in these people.  You’ve gotten rid of the energy drainers.  You may be temporarily feeling alone and lost but that’s because you have the time on your hands that you didn’t have before while helping them.  You may feel alone because these types of people will constantly be around, writing or phoning you with their problems and be so invasive in your life that you were never truly alone and it can suddenly feel lonely because you were in a pattern of having someone constantly needing and wanting to be around you.  You have to ask yourself if you’re truly missing that person themselves or whether you were stuck in the companionship of someone who was simply there to get what they could get from you.  I can guarantee you that is more likely the latter scenario.

While no one is truly and completely “bad” and therefore, brings some sort of “good” into your life, even if it’s only in feeling that you have a purpose of some kind while taking care of their needs, all that you’ve lost is an abuser/user.  You haven’t lost a friend because friends would never just take then, walk on you when you no longer served that purpose for them.  All that you’ve lost is the abuse and user relationship and while you may feel empty, lost, alone and lonely for a bit, it’s also been a learning curve for you as well.  You’ve learned to curb your helping habits, balance out your relationships to ones of not just giving but, also learning to ask and accepting receiving in return.  You’ve also learned that your time, energy and thoughts should be divided to include helping yourself to better your own life as well as to demand respect for that and yourself.

Now is the time to use those energies, time and thought and put them to use in your own life and towards your own needs.  Figure out what you would like to have happen in your own life and how to get those things. Look into things that you’d like to do and do them.  When you do things that you like to do, you’ll often find others of similar interests and thinking who can often become a true friend.  Do that enough time and you’ll find yourself surrounded by more people than you thought possible and with the right reasons behind them as well as the proper balance.

More than anything, as one final word of caution, never set up a friendship or relationship based on solving someone else’s problems or being a constant shoulder or ear for them.  It’s ok for someone to tell you that they have a problem and you not attempt to solve it for them.  If the first thing out of their mouths are problems, see that as a warning beacon that they’re going to try to sucker you into their issues and get you to help in some way.  Walk away.  People need other people in times of trouble no doubt and that’s what friends are for but, when your entire friendship or relationship is based on feeling sorry for them and their problems, you’re already heading down a slippery slope.  If they can’t make you laugh and have fun too and only want to whine on your shoulder, you’re already setting off a dynamic that will turn into resentment on your part and them walking in the end unless you keep on giving until you’re burned out in many, if not all ways.  Not worth it.

Take this for what it’s worth but, that’s the way that I’m seeing things from experiences in my little corner of life.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Person In Need And A Psychic Vampire

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I admit it.  I am a “Helpaholic”.  I cannot stand knowing that someone is in trouble therefore, I put on my heroine cape and go leaping in to try to rescue them from the perils of pain.  The smallest whiff of someone being in trouble is enough to turn me into a wonder woman who will turn the world on its side if I think that it might help someone.  Oftentimes, that makes me easy prey for what is referred to as a “Psychic Vampire”, not a friend.

Why I do this, I don’t know.  Perhaps, it dates back to a dysfunctional childhood where trouble and pain were a daily occurrence?  Or, maybe, it was too much empathy built into me on an instinctive level and magnified a thousand times over?  It may simply be the idea that I’m somehow warped/flawed into believing that by helping others, somehow I’m buying love?  A therapist would likely have a field day with this one but, suffice it to say that if someone is in trouble and I so much as get a whiff of it, I’d be there.

Either I’m noble, kind and generous to a fault or, I’m stupid.

There is a line between helping and being a sucker.  I’ve been the sucker for far too long and for far too many people.  When your friends admit that they know that all that they have to do is to tell you about their problem or give you a sob story and they know that you’ll be there, you’ve gone too far and you’ve become a sucker.

If you’ve never encountered friends, bosses, co-workders and especially family, tell you that, there are signs that will tell you who is using you and who genuinely needs your help.

First, everyone has problems, including you.  None of us on this planet don’t have some sort of problem or another in our lives so, these people whining on your shoulder with their tales of woes, do not hold a monopoly on having trouble in their lives.  Everyone has something that they can whine about.

Secondly, not every whiner wants to fix their problems, surprisingly enough.  Some simply want the empathy, sympathy and attention that it gets them so, all of your energy will be going into allowing these people to suck you dry of your time, thought, energy and emotions while they move onto the next person who will grant them time to hear their problems.  Yes, these people don’t stop at just one person to vent or cry to.  There’s usually a plethora of others they will try with, in spite of their proclamations of “you’re the only person I have to talk to and I can’t tell anyone else.”  Yeah, right.  Try talking to some of their other friends or family members and you can pretty much be guaranteed that at least a few know the same things that you do, with perhaps, a bit of a twist to the details, depending upon that person’s levels of tolerance to drivel.

Thirdly, not everything you hear coming from their mouths or see happening in their lives is real.  Some of it is half-truths, fabricated, self-produced, self-inflicted, or purposely slanted and embellished to garner your attention.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Even if they, themselves are delusional about their issues, you are not hearing the entire truth from them in all likelihood.  Serial troubled souls as I call those who seem to never be out of trouble, are rarely ever victims of never-ending and total bad luck.  A lot of the troubles that they allegedly getting into are usually caused or created by or in their own minds then, magnified further in their stories recounted to you.

That’s not to say that people are never in trouble and never need help in some way or another but, if you’re finding yourself faced with someone who appears to constantly be in one problem situation after another, crying on your shoulder by phone, in person or email and you find yourself constantly saying to yourself, “poor so-and-so…they can’t catch a break,” think twice.  There may be more to these people’s problems than you know.

Veronica, a friend of mine, was constantly in seeming bad financial trouble.  She claimed that she couldn’t even put food on her table and was going to lose her house.  Veronica also seemed to get into one bad relationship after another where she was always the one left behind in pain and sorrow.  Her family were all “no good” and wouldn’t help her.  Every friend she ever had (except me of course) had deserted her and weren’t caring people (like I was, of course).  Her children were horrid to her and didn’t care if she dropped dead with all of her health issues and, she never left the house because she had nowhere to go without money, friends, family or help.  She spent every holiday on her own.  She had nothing and no one and proclaimed to want “to die”.

For over two decades, I kept swooping in like a masked and caped crusader, to save her from what appeared to be excrutiating misery, debt, loneliness and even told others in her life off for being so insensitive to her and her needs, giving her money that has yet to ever be able to be paid back as…there was no money coming in.

I took flack from others for “meddling” into their lives when I’d try to talk to them about Veronica and her horrific situations.  I was shunned, talked about and hated by others for what I saw as simply a “duty” to a friend.

As time went by and my own life was fraught with problems, family and other friend’s deaths, financial issues myself and my own set of headaches, I became somewhat crippled within my own life and could no longer do what I used to do for Veronica.  As a matter of fact, Veronica was pretty perturbed that I wasn’t able to be there for her and considered it a “slight” by me, not even giving me the time of day to hear out my problems.  To add insult to injury, just as I could have used a friend, even just to have a coffee with to take my mind off of my own issues, Veronica was off with other people she knew and I didn’t see or hear from her at all.

The separation did me good though.  I eventually started to come out the other side of a really difficult rough patch in my life and had room to think and breathe again before Veronica heard that I was doing better and began to resurface.  At this point though, I had been through enough of Life’s issues to have learned a thing or two about how to deal with those times, issues and most of all, figure out what made people like Veronica tick.  This time, I was prepared to deal with her on both a higher and more solid ground versus jumping into her own, self-created quicksand with her.

One of the things that I learned through my own troubled time experiences is that when you are truly down financially, you do whatever you can or need to do in order to get yourself afloat again.  If that means scrubbing toilets or washing dishes, you do it until something better comes along or until your finances are straightened out.  When I offered information and contacts to Veronica for work to get her some sort of income, she chose not to take any of those opportunities as they “weren’t right for her”.

When I had suffered from panic and depressive episodes, I sought out counselling and offered her the name and phone numbers to several free counsellors and received the answer, “nah…they’re more screwed up than we are.”

In suggesting that her son, living with her, in a beautiful basement apartment in the house that she lived in, either move upstairs into his bedroom again or pay the full rent the apartment could have garnered, she “didn’t want to talk about it” in spite of the bank threatening to take her house for lack of mortgage payments which also meant that her son’s roof would be gone as well.

The romantic relationship she was in was neglectful, bordering on abusive and he was an alcoholic and drug user with no money of his own, often waiting for her to feed him.  She’d constantly cry that there was nothing there, how hurt and angry she was at it all and him.  I obviously, suggested that she end that one and put her energy into her own life first, then look for someone better suited to her.  She pshawed that suggestion by saying, “but, he fixes things around my house for me.”

The list is endless but, by these examples, it’s likely plain to anyone reading this that Veronica didn’t want to help herself in any way.  She also wasn’t telling me the truth or at the least, not the entire truth about everything as I’d catch her in her own lies where she’d try to back-peddle and cover it up with excuses or more lies.

The plain and simple bottom line to Veronica and others like her are that at best, they are stuck and until or unless they truly want to make a change, your help isn’t going to make even the smallest of dents in anything.  At worst, these types of people are out for what they can get out of you in whatever ways that you will allow and for as long as you will continue doing it for them.  They will suck you dry in every conceivable way if you let them because they have no intentions of doing what could or would help them.  In essence, they don’t really want to be helped.  They love living in the drama and getting the attention that it creates for them in suckers like those who will fall for it.

If you truly want to know if your friend or family member really wants help, try offering them up solutions to their problems as a test.  If they constantly have reasons why they can’t or won’t take them or use them, you not only know that you are dealing with someone who cannot be helped until they want out of their issues but, you also know that they’re going to continue being psychic vampires on your time, energy, thoughts and emotions.  Give it up.  You cannot win.  You can only lose.

Go have yourself a coffee and enjoy something in your day because the energy that you’ve spent on these types of people are wasted.  May as well enjoy your own life and solve your own Life Problems as we all must do.

At least, that’s the way that I see things from my little corner of life right now.