“i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)” – e. e. cummings
Although a sentiment from a love poem, I find this is increasingly true for all the important people in my life. I carry their hearts in my heart. OK, not literally, but I take on their triumphs, their worries, and their problems. Triumphs are no problem at all; who doesn’t like to share in the successes of their loved ones? However, the worries and problems are weighing me down. I’m not sure how to distance myself from people’s problems. I can’t seem to put them down and walk away after hearing about them. They become attached to me as if I’m made of a magnetic material and all of these problems are tiny magnets. One or two are not that big of an issue, but pretty soon the tiny magnets become overwhelming due to the sheer number of them. Some magnets are quite a bit heavier than others, and these rest right on my magnetic shoulders. Try as I might, I cannot turn off my magnetic material. They are stuck on and can only be removed when the tiny magnet itself becomes demagnetized from solving the problem or losing the worry. I may have taken that metaphor a bit far, but I think it helps to illuminate my current issue. I was so worried last night that I couldn’t even sleep because my shoulders were so tense with worry. Tylenol didn’t touch the pain, my husband massaging my shoulders and neck didn’t touch the pain, and heat didn’t touch the pain. I find more and more that I only find solace in sleep when my worrying mind is turned off. However, I then dream, and last night’s dreams, when I did eventually get to sleep, included being sold as a sex slave and hacking off man parts. Probably not the most restful night’s sleep.
This problem of my own (see, I’m adding a tiny magnet to you now) is becoming increasingly troublesome. I can’t look at Facebook after a certain time at night and can have problems sleeping when others reach out to me about something late at night or, depending on the magnitude of their problem, when they reach out at any time. I wake up thinking of the many problems of my loved ones and with someone on my heart. I have trouble telling others that they’re being stupid and should have done A, B, or C rather than the obscure Z they chose to go with on their problem. I have trouble telling others that their choice or lack of choice in resolving a serious issue is dangerous not only to their happiness or relationship but to their health. I suppose most of all I have trouble keeping my mouth shut as I listen to problems instead of providing a point of action. Perhaps I think more like a man in this as that sex is more apt to try to fix a problem than to just listen to it. However, whenever I try to fix something or offer advice I find myself getting that look that says, “This isn’t your place to fix it.” I’ve even lost friends. But why then do people tell me their what-seems-like infinite number of problems if we cannot brainstorm how to fix them together? It’s like I’m getting heavier and heavier in my magnetic skin, and although I can tell the other person how to demagnetize some of the weight I’m carrying, they refuse to do it. They refuse to lighten the load.
I realize when people tell me their concerns and problems that they do not intend for me to bear it with them. They intend to get something off their chest and confide about something with which they are currently dealing. The sharing of these are not done out of malice but rather out of love because of our strong relationship. They feel I may be one of the only people to deal with it. I appreciate being the type of person that others feel they can confide in and trust. I know what this means. Honestly, though, it’s killing me.
I’m positive I’m more sensitive now that I’m pregnant, but I recognize that this has always been a problem. When I was younger, I would just drop a person when they continually made dumb decisions. I figured there was no help for him/her so why should I have that kind of turmoil in my life, too? However, it’s not that easy to do anymore as I get older. I can’t turn my back on certain people, especially family, because they are connected to my life by others as well. I could cause a rift in family or our group of friends because of this desire to have nothing to do with someone, and it would be heartbreaking to me, as well, to let certain people go. As I’ve grown up I’ve learned to love on a deeper level, but this love has brought a whole new set of problems. I have closer and more friends than I’ve ever had before, and although I love this, my inability to distance myself from their problems is killing me.
I know I’m complaining and doing the very thing I am writing about with which I have issue. However, I am not providing specific examples and details that tend to, in my case, weigh me down more. I have taken on health issues that are not being resolved. I have taken on the knowledge that relationships will not work. I have taken on a million different issues of my friends and family. I am drowning.
So how do I remedy this? The most important and difficult thing to do is to figure out how to distance myself once again from problems without totally cutting these people from my life. How do I do that? I have no idea. Perhaps this should be a resolution for the new year. Figure out how to lay down others’ problems and not carry them in my heart. Another way of dealing with this is to simply stop being that person that others feel they can confide in. Again, I have no idea how to do this without killing relationships and burning bridges. To be honest, I like being that person but I’ve seen, particularly in the past week, how this is detrimental to me. I’ve never been a “No” person. I am a pleaser. And this is hurting me. I spend way too much time stressing and worrying about what has been told to me and what has been asked of me, and had I simply said “No” to begin with, I would not have this stress on my shoulders. So another way of dealing with this may be to exercise my “No.” Instead of constantly saying “Yes,” I need to think of these affirmative replies as being limited rather than limitless. There are only so many times I can say “Yes,” so I must used these sparingly. My “Yes” and my “No” should be balanced. All of this doesn’t mean I do not care about what’s going on in the lives of my loved ones; this means I need to protect my own heart.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” — Corrie Ten Boom