Taking a step back when you know you've exhausted your kindness
We’ve all had that friend that seems like their life is always falling apart at its seams. When one thing starts to go right, another thing starts to go wrong. It always seems like this person just can’t catch a break, and you want to do what any good human would do and you want to help them out.
You listen to their troubles and their woes. You give advice when they ask for it. You wipe their tears when they’re falling. You help find solutions to their problems. Despite your efforts in helping them, nothing seems to change because they aren’t changing. They aren’t using the solutions, and they do the same routine and expect a different outcome. Now it’s come to a point where they’ve exhausted all of your kindness, and you’re starting to feel the burden of their issues weighing down on your shoulders. Being their friend has now impacted your life that you start to feel the negativity. It’s become unhealthy. So how do you know it’s time you step away?
Believe patterns, not apologies
It’s very difficult when you’re in a situation where your friend is constantly doing things that end up hurting you. Second chances are always something that should be given, but multiple chances time and time again? Those are hard to come around. You may think that you’re being a good friend for not giving up on someone, but if it begins to take a toll on your mental well-being, then it’s probably time that you believe their patterns and not their apologies.
Those apologies may seem sincere, and they may truly need help, but you can’t help anyone if you’re struggling too. Someone who truly cares about you wouldn’t put you in a position where you’re their fallback when things go wrong, and then continue to damage your relationship.
Coercion into a friendship is not a friendship
You should never be guilted into staying in a friendship, no matter what the circumstances are. When someone starts trying to guilt you into a friendship, is it really a friendship or are you just there because you’re afraid of what the outcome would be if you left?
I struggled with this a lot this past year, and it’s gotten me nothing but sleepless nights and anxiety attacks. “You said you would always be there for me, but you lied.” “You never cared about me in the first place, don’t pretend that you do now.” “I’m going to kill myself because without you all of this would have been for nothing.”
It’s hard to read, isn’t it? When you’ve spent so much of your time trying to help someone, and they downgrade your care for them to nothing? They place the responsibility of their life in your hands, and it’s up to you to stop them from doing anything stupid. They aren’t showing you that they love you. They’re placing guilt into your hands if anything were to go wrong, and that’s not cool.
Change comes only when they truly accept your help
There’s no doubt that being a good friend is being there for each other through thick and thin, but even the strongest of friendships need a break sometimes. When you’ve been pushed to the limit where your well-being is being sacrificed for the well-being of someone else, it’s time to take that break. Speaking as a nurse, you can’t help people if you haven’t helped yourself first. Your friend is going to have to understand that you’ve done all that you can, and that change is only made when they’ve decided that it’s time. They need to believe it themselves. They have to start doing things differently if they want a different outcome. So step back, evaluate your situation, and see if it’s time for you to do some self-care.