There was a tweet I saw on Twitter some time back:
‘ You’re not the strong friend, you just failed to set your boundaries.’
I’m on the fence with this statement. On one side I feel it was something said out of ignorance, on the other side, it bears a lot of truth for the vast majority of those classified as the ‘strong’ friend.
To the strong friend,
Know that you are treasured and loved, that someone somewhere is able to get through their day because you took your time to listen and understand them. You didn’t throw any judgments their way as they confided in you, nor did you just let the information pass you by. Instead you, with your empathetic nature, were able to correct them in the areas they fail at and at the same time, lift and encourage them in those that they are giving up on. In fact, you push them towards trying new things which you see they have the capability to excel at.
You’ve dedicated your time, precious and limited, to ensuring those you care about are able to go about their daily lives. Don’t you see the great sacrifices you make? Calling them when you know they need someone to talk to, being there when they need a shoulder to cry on? Welcoming them into your home when they want to run away from theirs?
You’re giving your time, making sacrifices for them because you value them. You’re able to detach yourself from being selfish and uncaring to being able to accommodate others.
Who is there for you when you break down? They don’t see the tears you cry when you close your bedroom door nor do they notice the stress lines you’re developing from having to carry their burdens in addition to your own.
They call you when they’re doing good, to talk about their successes, to share their joyous moments because that’s what friends do. But what kind of friend barely tries to find out how you are doing? Is it that they actually do not give a single damn if you’re alright or not. I won’t deny, they do ask, but only for a brief second, how you are, it’s more a formality than anything else. You answer the generic ‘I’m fine’ , but in a way that says ‘I’m not fine, please ask me once more’ unfortunately you’re the strong one and so they accept it as is and move on.
And now you’re finding yourself, drowning in all your problems; school, family, your relationships. The worst part is any straw you were trying to desperately clutch at, is further away now that you’re also dealing with the issues of your friends as well.
See, you’ve failed to set your boundaries. You’ve failed to show what as well as how much you can tolerate. You think that just because you’re the stronger one, you don’t deserve to have time to yourself, or to have a shoulder to lean/ cry on. You’re breaking slowly, falling into depression and there’s no one around to help you. Unfortunately you trying to reach out for help causes them to turn your perceived ‘strength’ against you. The minute you try to get things focused on you, they find a way to change everything and make it about them. You let them, because they’re the weaker ones, they deserve to be listened to and helped but you don’t.
You’ve begun using this position of yours as someone’s shoulder, to temporarily hide from your own personal issues. Can’t you see, by doing this, you’re causing yourself to be eaten from the inside out. Everyone expects you to be strong and sane, live a perfect life; you know that’s impossible but here you are trying to do it by playing hero and not focussing on the main problems in your own personal life.
See we all carry our own problems. No human being on this earth lives a life free from trouble. If it’s not one thing, it’s definitely another.
But as the strong one,who is there for you? You’ve built yourself in such a way that you feel you have no one to go to because your friends have no time for you,
Its time to focus on you, not by refusing to help your friends, but by finding a way to take care of yourself in addition to trying to help them out. Find a balance, find peace.
I’ve personally gone through the emotional trauma of having to deal with issues people brought to me. I was receiving it all but had nowhere to let it out. It was both mentally and physically draining. I had to find a solution, and the perfect one was learning how to put myself first.
Remember you can’t help others if you’re unable to help yourself.