Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who's Fixing Who?

I get very tired of being the person to whom others come to fix a problem. Whether it's with my cash, advice, time or talent, it doesn't matter. I am feeling rather used up and frankly just getting fed up with being Mrs. Fixit. Today I was asked a favor by a family member. Because it was a family member I feld obligated to help, but damn it to hell, I really didn't want to help AT ALL. This person needs to help themself and my pitching in will only keep the situation status quo that much longer. In other words, I'm enabling this person to keep leaning on me and others. But it's really difficult to turn away a request for help, especially from family. I ended up helping, but not on the terms I was asked, and I qualified it and told the person it couldn't continue. My stomach was churning the whole time.

It's not the only time it's happened. In fact, it happens all the time. I get myself into situations where I take on work or a task that I really don't want to do at all, but end up saying yes to in order to help someone out. Well, that's what I say it is. Really it has to be something else, right? Because no one should overload themselves doing work or things they don't want to get involved in just to say they are helping others out. For me I think it's more that I worry what others will think if I say no. A friend of mine has told me I am overly concerned with how others view me. And he is right I think. All day today I have been thinking about this. So I get myself into these pickles where I am doing things I don't really want to be tied up with.

The result of this is that I end up forgetting to do things I really need to focus on because I was trapped doing those other "helper" tasks. Then I get overwhelmed and panicky that I have let something go that was important, or my husband gets crabby with me because I've not gotten to something I promised I would take care of at some point. (That's a bit of another story, frankly - that accountability factor to my husband is not sitting well with me. I'm not an employee.) At any rate, the getting behind in the real tasks I should be doing just leads to guilty or shameful feelings, making me feel even worse about myself than I already feel. (I am my own worst critic, for sure.)

It's not even just that I don't get other things done. It's that I get so overloaded I run myself into the ground physically. Before Christmas I ran like crazy so much and stressed myself out to the degree that I ended up sick from Christmas Eve until really the last day or two - three weeks VERY sick! And I run myself into the ground emotionally too. To borrow a phrase, "It's All Too Much". It has to stop. I am beginning to find my voice, and to start saying NO when others ask me (unreasonably) to help them. I have to guard my time more preciously. I'm in my 50s. How much time do I have? No one ever knows, but getting to mid age, it's something that definitely occurs to me much more often. I don't want to spend my time sick or feeling bad or mired up in stuff I don't want to be embroiled in.

This whole thing is a work in progress, for sure. My first instinct is always to say yes when asked for assistance. But it's getting to be about that Oprah saying now about leading my "best life". Is it my best life if I am just taking it up with tasks? And not that I want to be selfish and just cold turkey and stop helping others. That will never be the case. But I am going to try (going forward) to ask myself when asked for my help if that help (whether financial, emotional or physical) will benefit the other party in the long run and if it will serve me in some way too. And by that I mean whether or not I'd get satisfaction from helping or if it will just lead to guilt and stress and bad feelings in some way. But even as I write this I have to say I feel guilty in some way for being "selfish".

My time and resources must be guarded more fervently. I am committed to having a different life this year - different results. And I know the old proverb (or whatever) that says that the definition of folly is expecting different results but not doing anything differently. So I am going to gamble to some extent and change it up. Because I'm just not happy with how things are going for me. I'm tired of being taken advantage of - in all ways. I'm tired of being taken for granted. I am tired. Period. It's a new decade. A new year, and a new time in my life. Maybe for the first time I'm starting to really be alive and have a sense of myself and my place and role in the world. One thing is sure - I'm not going to be the fixit gal all the time any more. Because if I continue the way I have gone, someone is going to have to fix me. Might as well be me that does the fixing before someone else has to.

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