I Can’t Do This On My Own

I love you, I really do – you’re my favourite person to spend time with. It hurts though, I am in pain and I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck, lost and confused. And alone, I feel like I am in this alone.

 

I don’t want to continuously talk to those who are close to me about it cause they’re protective of me, and I don’t want their view of you to be skewed. I can’t talk to you about it, cause whenever I try, your default is to become defensive, and you tend to interrupt to rant at me (hence the letter).

 

You rant about where you are at in life. What you need. How hard the last few years have been for you. Somehow me trying to express how I am feeling, turns into the victimised story of you. What about where I’m at in life? What I need? How the last few years have been for me?

 

The other night you told me that you never get to be selfish, and it’s your time in life to be selfish without trying to make others happy. That you need space to sort your shit out. And you know what I get that – but the selfish comment just didn’t leave me. It’s your turn to be selfish? Maybe in other relationships in your life. In our relationship though – I have continuously put my need for security aside for your needs. You needed to break up with me to be with her, you then needed support because she never turned up and you fell into depression, you then needed somewhere to live (and a place for yourself on my lounge room floor), you then needed space to find a job in your career – and now with a job in your career and the upcoming residency with your friend, you need space to ‘sort your shit out’. During that whole time, I have needed security. I have sacrificed my sense of security to be there for you. I have sacrificed parts of my identity, parts of my self-esteem and allowed myself to be gossiped about and friendships risked defending you. All my choice to do so yes, but still a choice to sacrifice these things for you and only you.

 

I acknowledge that you do a lot for me also, I don’t want you to think in expressing all of this that I am forgetting all the good between us. It is by remembering and appreciating all the good and some of the amazing things you do that makes this so painful. You are always there to help me when I need practical help – whether it is to clean, pick me up, help me fix something around the house, care for me when I’m unwell, cook for both me and my friends and more. You do so much more for me than any man in my life, but it is this that confuses things. We keep defending the notion that we are just friends, but it doesn’t feel like friendship. My other friends don’t treat me like this. They say actions speak louder than words, but the words of our relationship say we are friends and the actions say otherwise. It confuses me, I don’t know where we stand. If either of us were to have another partner, our relationship couldn’t continue the way it does, as it would be inappropriate….  All the cuddles would be inappropriate.

 

I don’t know how much longer I can keep being this accommodating woman that lets you continue to call the shots of our dynamics. It is slowly destroying me. I have tried so hard to hold strong for you – to understand your perspective and be empathetic to your needs – but I’ve been neglecting what I need in the process. I can’t keep feeling too guilty to fight for what I want and need, because you’ve had a hard time of it recently. I’ve been allowing myself to live in the shadow of another woman and consequently have that turn me into somebody that I am not. I have never been the insecure or clingy woman in my relations with men – never. I don’t like being it – I don’t like lying awake at night wondering where we both stand in your heart and if I’m going to wake up one day and lose you to her.  I don’t like living in anxiety and fear. This is not who I am…. I am losing who I am.

 

I know I can’t force you to want a relationship with me – but I keep feeling like it’s your way or the highway. You choose what our relationship dynamic is. I feel like the only options I have is to accept these dynamics or lose you all together. So out of fear of losing you, I just keep accepting them, discarding my own needs and wants and sit with the pain. I’m so scared that if we keep working like this that we will end up like you and her; a situation filled with resentment. I don’t want to resent you. I don’t want us to end up being cold. I fear that this is the path that we are going down.

 

I know you don’t tend to be a big picture person, but where do you see this going? How do you see this ending? What is it that you want from me? To sit by your side going along with whatever you need for the rest of your life? Cause that’s what it feels like. How many years does this I just need to be selfish phase go for?  I feel taken for granted, like you see me always holding your hand no matter what you do or who you date or whatever your future may be. I can’t be sitting around as your fall-back girl for the rest of your life, waiting for you to acknowledge what you really have in me.

 

I just don’t know what the fuck to do. I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want to continue sitting in pain and feeling underappreciated, I don’t want to force you into doing something you don’t want to do – I’m fucking trapped.

 

I need your help to understand deeper than ‘need to sort my shit out’ so I can try find a way out of the trap. Please. I don’t want to be confused and lost trying to find my way through our relationship alone. Relationships involve collaboration. I can’t do this on my own.

The Irreparable Wounds of Suicide

I’ve been procrastinating writing this blog the past couple of weeks – as it’s such a sensitive subject to write about and rightly so. There are two perspectives to suicide, the perspective of the person who acts on it and the one of their family, friends and loved ones.

In my past, I have been of the perspective of the one who acts on it. I have a lived experience of suicide attempts and have felt the intense pain that leads someone to believing such an act is the answer.

Over the past 12 months I have been working as a Youth Peer Worker, utilising my lived experience of mental health experiences to support others in theirs. Recently, unfortunately a client of mine lost his life to suicide.  Safe to say this has been the most influential death in my life so far.

I stood at his funeral, surrounded by at least if not more than eighty people.  People who loved my client. People whose lives were influenced and inspired by him.  People who were hurting by the loss of such a genuine and kind man. I cried during the speeches. I cried for the loss of a life gone too soon, I cried for the loss of my relationship with him, but mainly I cried for those who loved him deeply, and now have to carry the pain of a life without him there.

I looked around at my surroundings, at the photos of him up on the television screen. I watched the people of all ages there to pay their respects – and wondered how they were all connected to him. School? Family? University? Sporting Clubs? The list could go on forever. I had a realisation, the type that makes your stomach drop. This could have been me. This could have been my funeral. This could have been my mum distraught wondering how to go on without me. It could have been my friends crying through the microphone whilst talking about all our good memories together. This could have been my older brother carrying my coffin away.

I never stopped to think about the impact that my death would have on those around me. I was in so much pain – unbearable, incomprehensible pain. I never wanted to die, I just wanted the pain to go away. I felt like I had tried everything and here I was, still fighting to get through every minute. I couldn’t continue living like that. Death felt like the only choice I had left.

Despite understanding why it is I chose to do what I did back then, and in no way blaming or judging myself for that decision – I still came home from that funeral feeling guilty. I needed to contact my parents. I needed to apologise for the distress that I put them through. For them having to fear losing me.

I tried to imagine what life would be like for those close to me if I had succeeded all those years ago. The suffering that my parents would live with for life. The reality my brothers would live with forever more. The photos my youngest brother would be shown, whilst being told about the sister he lost back when he was too young to remember. My friends falling into a heap whenever something reminded them of me. The irreparable wounds I would have left behind.

It’s just not something I thought about when I needed the pain to end. My thoughts were overridden with agony, I didn’t have the space to imagine what life would be like without me. I just needed to be free from it. I assume this how my client felt too. As taboo as it may be to say, I’m happy for him. I am happy he is no longer in pain. I understand his decision, I have been there.

My heart breaks at the same time for his loved ones. I think of them every day. I cannot even begin to comprehend what they are experiencing.  This is something they will carry with them for life – and I’m so sorry, I wish I could take that pain away.

It’s funny how nine years goes by and I never stopped to think about the perspective of my loved ones, until I became that perspective myself. To all those out there that stood by me through it all – thank you. I’m not going to say I’m sorry, because I felt what I felt and there’s no shame in that. I do know though, that it wouldn’t have been easy and I love you for being there.

 

 

 

The Anxiety of Friendship

“Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please—this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!
So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.)” 

― Robert A. HeinleinTime Enough for Love

Friendships and boundaries – the fact there’s this perfect quote in existence for them, says to me it’s not only a problem I’m experiencing. Over and over again – I feel like I’m giving as much as I’m capable of to my friendships, but it’s still never enough.

An ex-boyfriend of mine sent me this quote the other day when my frustration was really beginning to bring me down. I couldn’t decide whether it was me, if I was truly a terrible friend or if I was drowning in other people’s unrealistic expectations of me. I think it’s clear to see he believed the latter.

The past couple of years, I have found myself being reprimanded again and again by long term close friends. After years of feeling lost and without direction, I have finally found who I am, what I want out of life and where I want to go. This in turn has resulted in my life being very busy – working two jobs and studying to reach my goals. The capacity I have to physically and emotionally be there for my friends has changed. I don’t have five days a week to be there like I have in the past.

I try my hardest to see my closest friends at least once a week. It doesn’t seem to be enough though. I am in trouble for finding it hard to find the time and energy at the end of a long day to speak on the phone. Both of my jobs are emotionally demanding – in one I’m tending to those with mental health difficulties and the other to children. I am dead at the end of the day and sitting on the phone for an hour tending to my friend’s problems takes emotional energy that I don’t have.

By the time I reach my weekly catch ups – in which don’t even cover all the friends I would like to be spending my time with, I am in trouble. I’m in trouble for not having called, for not having messaged enough, for not checking in with them, for not caring about them. They assume they’re not important to me, that I don’t care about what they’ve been experiencing during the week.

Every week, I sit there, reassuring them – that no they’re wrong, I still love them. Yes, I am still here. No, I’m not angry with them. It’s not them, I blink my eyes and a week is gone. I’m just busy. And tired. So fucking tired.

I’m beginning to become judgmental of them, something I never was before. I’ve always been the compassionate one, the one with an open ear ready to listen at any time. Seriously though, at the age of twenty-seven, how are my friends having that many dramas and issues in one week, that they need my support every few days? I feel guilty for it. I’ve found myself, I am happy. Permanently tired, but happy. It’s easy to be so judgmental once you’re on the other side, once you’ve found happiness. Where has my patience gone for those still searching? For those who haven’t quite found their contentment? Why is it that I am supportive and understanding for those I work with in a professional manner, but not those in my personal life?

My friends’ feelings of constant discontentment brings me down, it exhausts me. I become frustrated with it. I just want them to work it out already. Objectively, their lives aren’t all that bad – they’re pretty great actually. Perhaps that’s what gets to me. I hear horror stories of people’s lives all day and then see my friends unable to cope with what seems a pretty privileged situation. I know we can’t compare – we can’t judge how someone feels, they feel what they feel. Yet I still do. My patience is still short.

Perhaps if I wasn’t always being chastised for being out living my life and chasing my goals, I’d have more emotional energy to listen to their ‘discontentment’. Every time I see them though, it goes the same. I turn up, they tell me how hard their week has been, how incredibly sad and stressed they have felt. How me not calling or being there has exacerbated it, how they’ve been feeling angry towards me throughout the week. Secretly cursing me in their minds. I reassure them, they apologize profusely (despite having done so last week and knowing they will do so next week). They then continue to confide in me about all their distressing experiences, feelings and thoughts throughout the week before I leave and go home.

It has come to the point that my friendships are not where I go to be happy. They are not the escape in my life. Or where I receive that warm comfortable and fun-loving feeling. They make me anxious. I spend my nights worrying that I haven’t rang, and knowing I should – but feeling way too tired. I watch my phone light up when they call and feel my stomach drop. I can’t bring myself to answer from fear of being reprimanded, yet I know that by not answering, I’m only making it worse. I shake and breathe heavily in the car whilst I drive to visit them, bracing myself for the lecture I’m about to receive. I mentally sigh relief as we are saying goodbye, as I am done for another week. I collapse from exhaustion when I get home and question why I keep doing this, and how do I fix it?

It’s not as though I don’t love them – I do. They’ve been amazing friends over the years. I want them in my life. I don’t want to lose them. Something needs to change though – and I stay silent out of fear. Out of fear of upsetting them, out of fear of being in even more trouble, out of fear of being painted an even worse friend than I already am and out of fear of losing them.

It’s coming to the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. I have promised myself this year my new year’s resolution will be to fix my personal life. I have to stop living in fear and anxiety. 2018 is going to be the year that I have boundaries and make them clear. I don’t want the future Heinlein speaks of, I don’t want to end up with termites that will nibble away at my life.  I will not allow this to happen. It’s time I take control.