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To not have the energy to fight other peoples' battles anymore?

(17 Posts)
gretagrape Tue 09-Dec-14 10:56:36

I've always been someone who would get angry if others are treated unfairly and tried to help them however I can, either by just listening and giving my advice or helping them find information about their rights/their particular situation. Recently someone at work has been bullied and another friend is being treated very unfairly on a specific issue (sorry, bit vague but it could out me!) and I've listened to them, given my views, printed lots of info from Direct Gov so they can see what their rights are, and supported them whether they want to take action or just chat about things when they are upset.

Now though I feel like I can't cope with other peoples' problems and it takes too much of an emotional toll on me. My son has allergies which cause issues and it's just quite draining organising his diet, my marriage isn't in great shape, we have financial problems and I'm just knackered. I feel awful though, that I'm at a point where I almost feel like I have to let other peoples' problems go over my head in order for me to cope with my own life.

I never thought that becoming a parent would make me more insular/selfish but that's how I feel at the moment. AIBU?

wonderingsoul Tue 09-Dec-14 11:04:44

It's got nothing to do with being a parent, it's just what happens when you are the go to person.

All my friends come to me with their problems, and with my very close friends it's like their problem is mine.

It is draining, especially when your trying to keep aflot yourself.

Take a step back and look after you for a bit, or call on them to support you for a change.

It doesn't make you selfish or horrible, just human.

gretagrape Tue 09-Dec-14 11:14:16

Thanks - I think because things are quite tough at the moment I feel like starting to talk would open the floodgates and might overwhelm them, so I tend to ask questions rather than answer them!

By the way, I don't know if my post came across as me being a kind of martyr - I'm definitely not that sort of "oh poor me with so much to do" kind of person, but it's hard for me to feel as though the way to get through life at the moment is to start caring a bit less.

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 09-Dec-14 11:31:47

It is absolutely not selfish to prioritise your own problems over the problems of your friends.

Think of it this way - you are offering your friends First Aid. You're not a hospital curing their ills, you're a first-aider pointing them in the right direction and trying to prevent further harm. The absolute first thing a first-aider MUST is to ensure that they do not endanger themselves in giving aid to an injured person; because if they do not and they become injured, not only are they no help at all to the person they tried to help, but they also give the next first-aider along two people to aid rather than one.

Step back, they are adults and their problems are their problems - not yours.

Arven Tue 09-Dec-14 11:40:59

I think some people have too much empathy. I'm one of them and in the past I've been where you are now. A lot of people definitely lack empathy so it's not a problem they can understand. Look after yourself for a while, even if you're not capable of being so delibarely 'self-focused' (NOT selfish) for a while. Think about the things you would like to sort out and tell yourself you're going to think about those.

ChickenMe Tue 09-Dec-14 13:39:00

I think I have done this in the past. It is perfectly ok-healthy in fact-to think "I can't take this on right now;I have too much on my plate".
You sound like you have gone above and beyond for people. Like you, I like to help others but I now think "they're an adult, it's their look out".
Selfishness is not always bad - sometimes it is appropriate. In your case you need to conserve your energy for you.

Lioninthesun Tue 09-Dec-14 13:42:47

We are all sponges - sometimes you are too full to absorb anyone else's stuff. I had this with DD's dad when I was pg/gave birth. He was on his own crusade and I simply couldn't take the time out to help him resolve things he kept repeating.

Focus on your own life for a bit and maybe in a month or so you will be back to being as helpful as you can to your friends. It may take longer, or may not ever fully come back - I've noticed I have a lot less patience for friends who do the same thing over and over and have dropped several since having DD for this reason. Your time is precious, spend it on people who matter.

BreakOutTheKaraoke Tue 09-Dec-14 13:57:46

Greta I feel quite similar to you for this. The problem I have is how do you say to people 'Sorry, but I can't cope with this right now?'. These people aren't strangers, they're normally friends and family, and they need your help and support.

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 09-Dec-14 14:19:55

BreakOut The Karaoke, OP has already given her friends quite a lot of help and support already - "I've listened to them, given my views, printed lots of info from Direct Gov so they can see what their rights are, and supported them whether they want to take action or just chat about things when they are upset." Maybe it's time for them to act on that help and support?

As to exactly what to say? Maybe start with something along the lines of 'have you read through the stuff I printed off for you? What does it suggest is the best thing to do next?' Turn it around, encourage self-sufficiency rather than dependency.

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 09-Dec-14 14:25:06

My go to phrase when I can't be bothered to sort other people out is 'what are your options?' then 'Which one seems better for you - have you considered all the alternatives - what's the worst that can happen'...then walk away.

Nokidsnoproblem Tue 09-Dec-14 15:45:47

I agree it is annoying. I don't have kids, but come across this at work a lot.

There are a lot of people in my company and people often bring their problems to me as they know that I will speak up for them.

There are sheep and there are shepherds. I'm a shepherd and I am outnumbered by sheep.

Whatsthewhatsthebody Tue 09-Dec-14 15:51:34

There are also radiators and drains.

Drain people keep sucking the life from you with their demands while radiator people distribute and share warmth and care to others.

You can't be a radiator to the world op. You take care of you first. You are not selfish.

velourvoyageur Tue 09-Dec-14 16:01:43

Christ OP you're a parent and on top you have to deal with your kid's allergies, strikes me as being very selfless and hard. You're probably more generous with your time now than before you were a parent. Just because you chose (presumably) to have a child doesn't mean any selflessness directed towards your kid doesn't count, of course it does.
I don't think generally we properly realise how big of a sacrifice parenting can be. I'm not a parent and am genuinely in awe of mums and dads who are there day in day out and doing everything in their kids' best interests, without expecting stuff in return.

How's your self confidence OP? you need to let yourself treat yourself with kindness. It's not always easy.

gretagrape Tue 09-Dec-14 16:02:44

These replies are all really helpful - and they really strike a chord with me. Whereyouleftit that's a great analogy and is something I will keep in mind before I get too involved in someone else's crisis - I've got plenty on my own plate that I need to be fit to deal with.

Putting the ball back in their court is definitely something I need to do more - with one friend I seem to have the same chat all the time about her situation and nothing changes so it's quite draining, but I haven't worked out how to say "take action or accept it" in a polite way, so I'll try this.

Ribena this is something I'll do as well - ask them what THEY can do rather than feeling as though it's somehow my responsibility.

It's hard though - I wonder if it's a coincidence that as my own life has become tougher with more and more problems I find it harder to switch off from others' issues. Maybe it seems easier to try and help someone else so I can bury my head about my own crap...that needs to change though so thank you for making me feel like it's a positive thing to do rather than a selfish act.

gretagrape Tue 09-Dec-14 16:12:08

Radiators and drains - love it!

Velour - self confidence isn't the best at the moment to be honest. I had PND for a while and still have days where I doubt my parenting and life is probably more stressful than it's ever been at the moment which I guess is why I'm finding it hard to take on more emotional stuff from outside.

I sort of expected a lot less sympathy and a bit more of a "pull yoursef together" vibe so this has made me take a real step back and see that I'm not a bad person to prioritise my son and my marriage and let other adults look after themselves.

Innocuoususername Tue 09-Dec-14 17:05:04

with one friend I seem to have the same chat all the time about her situation and nothing changes so it's quite draining gosh I have a friend like this and it is so draining!

I agree with PP re putting the ball back in their court. Unfortunately in my case I've had to back off from a particular friendship a bit. I felt I was being used as a bit of an emotional dumping ground. The crunch point came when I was having a difficult pregnancy and wanted to have a moan, she brushed aside my issues to get back to her old ones we'd already churned around 100 times hmm. I'm afraid I now shut down discussion of certain topics because I feel I've said my piece, she either takes my advice or doesn't, but I can't do any more and I can't dedicate any more energy to it. That makes me sound like a bit of a cold hearted cow, but I do think you need to be a bit selfish in these situations, for self preservation if nothing else.

cailindana Tue 09-Dec-14 17:05:07

Your son needs you. Other people don't. By diverting energy away from your small helpless child into grown adults who should know better you are doin your child a disservice. Parenting is a fulltime job. Everyone else can sort themselves out.

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