Friday, March 1, 2013

Not making everybody's problems go away

Another situation came up, where I had the great chance of make someone's problems go away.

It was an emergency situation, involving hospitals, authorities, and one of my best friends. Friend had psychological issues for a while now (though before last year was one of the strongest and most normal people I have known), and I was helping her whenever I could. In this emergency, my first thought was to jump right in and become the knight in shining armor.

Helping as such would have required devoting my life (including maybe sacrificing my work, my relationship, and everything else for nearly a week) to said friend and taking legal responsibility for friend's descendants.

I have casually mentioned the issue to DB, and his first reaction was one question.

"You do realize, that this is now the dividing line between helping your friend and taking your friend's problems onto you?"

This was all I needed.

Yes, I needed this nudge (and thank God for DB, and his clear mind), but at least, I suddenly saw the situation as it was. It was a problem (although a huge one) of someone else. It was my friend's responsibility to take, and my friend's problem to solve. Not mine. I could show empathy, I could offer supporting words, but I did not have any obligation to give my life up.

I knew that me saying no could have brought more difficulties to my friend. I also felt sorry for the present situation. But I do not feel sorry for saying no.

This help would not have been real help. It would have prevented my friend from experiencing that it was possible to get out of this situation without my help. Without any outside help. To experience inner strength. To learn from mistakes.

I helped my friend by saying no. I helped myself by saying no.

One step forward for me again.


  1. Good for you Scatha! I'm hoping to get better at seeing that dividing line.

  2. I'm sorry your friend is having such a difficult time, but congratulations to you for letting the problems belong to the person they really belong to!

  3. Well done! In the long term your friend will be stronger and feel empowered by taking responsibility for her own problems.

    Sounds like you have a great supporter of your own!

  4. Such a tough lesson to learn: Sometimes saying "no" is more helpful than saying "yes." I'm working on this one. Good for you!


Comments are welcome!