Thursday, August 6, 2015

Not All Struggles Have a Name

Often times it is much easier in life to focus on other people's problems and situations than it is to focus on our own. It seems so much more rewarding and instantly gratifying to be that person--to be the one everyone runs to--a safe haven. I can hide there too--in other people's situations--away from my own. I love listening to other people's problems--not because I'm glad they are having problems, but because I am thankful that they are trusting me with this part of their heart, of their lives. I am truly grateful to be needed by them in these moments. I love being a "go to" person for those people I care about, and admittedly, for people I'm not even that close to. I love being a person that others can count on, someone that they see as an ear to listen, a constant rock in their lives. I love being this person for others. It is such a blessing to have other people telling me how much they appreciate me, love me, need me, and how thankful they are to have me to listen/help them in their times of need. It recharges my batteries--it makes me feel like I have a purpose. It makes me feel valuable.

There is another side of being this person--a side I often keep sheltered from the world. It's the lonelier side of this need to help others. People rarely give this back in return. Sometimes it's because they see you as a strong person and with all the sound advice you are able to give, they assume you have everything "together" and that you are not in need of support of your own. Other times, people who need you aren't the types of people that are able/capable of giving back in the ways that you give. They are receivers of sorts and trying to receive from them is just not likely to happen. Then there are times when people try to give back and we don't know how to receive it. I have become so accustomed to giving all the time. I have shut others out from my own heartache and struggles because it is so much easier to focus on everyone else's stuff than it is to focus on my own. I fight other people's battles because then I don't have to fight my own. 

I pride myself on my ability to understand others--to take one look at them and know what they are thinking or feeling. I love how perceptive I am about other people's emotions and feelings. I take one look into their eyes, and I know. I know the heartache or joy. I understand the pain. I am more than willing to listen no matter what is going on in my cluttered mind because it makes me feel of value to be this person for them. I feel like I have a purpose. It is not easy being this person sometimes. It is a harsh reality that very few people see the world the way I do--not everyone takes the time or has the compassion within them to see the pain in someone's eyes, let alone to want to help fix it for them. I am different from most of the people I know.

The "fixers" of the world, much like myself, are often left feeling alone in their times of need. They don't usually have someone who understands them with just a glance or can speak their mind and emotions for them after a couple short conversations, and even when they do have these people, they find themselves brushing off their desire to help for one reason or another. They put on a front. They hide their own heartache in order to help others with their struggles. They are usually feeling very alone in their times of struggle or pain. They also feel like if they can help others then they shouldn't feel this way--they should just snap their fingers and help themselves. A lot of times they just want someone to love them in the way that they love others, but that rarely happens--other people can't read their minds or don't take the time to see the pain behind a fake smile or a distant look. They aren't open enough about their own struggles for fear of judgement or rejection. 

Even now as I'm writing this I keep saying "they" rather than "I". I am speaking out for other people as if it's not entirely about myself. To be fair, it's not just about me--there are people like me out there feeling the same way, but it is still not easy in this moment to say, "In my times of need and struggle, I feel alone while surrounded by people." This is not easy for me to admit, and much of the time, it is not easy for me to even see about myself until I feel so alone it hurts. I love helping people, and I hope that this does not come off in any way that I am complaining about being "this person" for people because that is not it--at all. I still love that about me. I am talking about the times when I am in need--when I am struggling.

I am a huge advocate for those with diagnoses for mental health. I am finding myself becoming more and more familiar with the way their minds work and how these disorders affect their lives. I am becoming even more compassionate for these people and wanting to help them. I also want to be a voice for those people that have struggles that aren't something that has been diagnosed. I mean, I'm sure we can put a label on anyone for anything because that's the way psychology and the mental health fields work. They have studied enough people that they can give you a label because you are much like this group of people so you must have this same thing "wrong" with you. I don't believe that these diagnoses should be considered something "wrong" that needs to be fixed. I think we can find out this is why I tick and this is how I will adjust or react in the future because of it, and this is how I live my life now that I know this. 

I am a person that has struggles. There I said it. I'm not perfect. I have flaws. I have a mind that gets cloudy sometimes. I cry when I'm sad. I cry when I'm happy. I have a huge array of emotions. I am complex while simple. I want to feel loved and appreciated. I have times of darkness where my need to help others overshadows my own personal needs of taking care of myself and my own well being. I have times where I have put so many other people's feelings and emotions before my own that I am no longer listening to how I feel about anything--only trying to help others. This is when my mind gets cloudy, my head starts spinning, and I start losing a grip on my own mental stability and inner peace. I need balance in my life. If I would allow myself (which I have done many times in my life), I would only focus on other people from now and until the day I leave this Earth. Other people's well being matters more to me than my own; however, I know from experience that if I only focus on them, I will begin to spiral. I've been down that road a time or two--a friend has a crisis, and I am so involved in trying to "fix" the world for them that I don't notice that I haven't taken anytime for myself in weeks--all I've done is focus on them and helping them. Again, I do not regret helping them. This is what I need to do, but now I know that, I can't let it consume me. I have on several occasions verbally said to myself (yes I sometimes talk to myself--don't judge) as a reminder "I am not responsible for other people's emotions." I have to actually remind myself of this. I can help the best I can, but I am not responsible for their actions or the emotions caused by the situation. I can only help them deal with their emotions or the consequences of their actions. This reminder has saved some spiraling on a few occasions. It helps me. It puts my position in their life into perspective. It saves my sanity. 

I have also come to the realization how much I need my own quiet time. I have used writing lately as my outlet and a way to express myself as well as an opportunity to focus on myself and keeping myself centered. I have also started taking positivity from others--whether it's their good mood, positive words, some good mantras on the internet, or some laughter with friends--as a way to "recharge my batteries." Focusing on the positive and good in my own life is an amazing way to take a deep breath and smile and enjoy this life that I do love living. By trying to have more positive influences in my life, I have been able to keep a more level head while still being this person for others. I know that I do not have a name for how I am. I am just me. I am not in therapy. I have not been diagnosed by a doctor. I am not a mental health professional. I am simply a woman who enjoys showing compassion and is trying her best to keep her own mind clear in the process. I wanted to shed some light for those of you that maybe have a person in your life like me--give a little perspective on how they feel some days. Loving everyone in this way is very rewarding, but some days it's exhausting carrying around the weight of the world. We don't mind carrying it around, but please remind us to focus on ourselves. Please don't let us ignore our own needs. We know you love us. Please don't let us forget to love ourselves as well. 

I also wanted to speak out to those that are like me--my kindred spirits. Those "fixers" of the world that are trying their best to carry around that weight of the world while wearing a smile. This is a reminder to you "You are not responsible for their emotions." You don't have to carry the weight around alone. You are not alone--even if you feel lonely. Your struggle is not a weakness--it is a normal response to all the responsibility you take on for everyone else. It is okay to take a break--recharge yourself. You are of more good to others when you are your most whole self. Your struggles don't need a name to be real; you must face them in the same way--head on and with compassion for yourself. Give yourself a break--you are not a super hero, but you are an incredible person that deserves to be loved--especially by yourself. Give yourself some of the love you give others--I am trying to do the same so, trust me, I understand that it's easier said than done; however, I am beginning to see the rewards in the form of my true genuine smiles in the mirror looking back at me. I am working toward finding my balance.

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