I Need Time Off From Saving the World So I Can Save Myself 

Scrolling through my contacts tonight I struggled to find a single friend I feel comfortable reaching out to right now. This last week has been overwhelming in terms of friends around me relying on me for constant support. I have been so dedicated to and available for my friends that I have been sacrificing my own time, energy and wellbeing, because I care about them so much. I am terrified that if I am not available, something bad will happen to them and it will all be my fault. 

The thing is, I have no problem supporting my friends when it is balanced, reciprocal, appropriate, and when we have other things to talk about besides the absolutely critical. However, when every conversation feels like a matter of life or death, when every message is about the other person, when it starts impacting my life because I am constantly put in a position of playing saviour, it starts to become very problematic. 

This is where I am at the moment, and it’s a lonely place to be. I feel incredibly isolated, being in contact with so many people yet no one really knowing how I am because they are so caught up in their own chaos. I understand that they are struggling, I do. But I struggle too. 

I wish I didn’t find it so hard reaching out, but the thing is, none of my friends are as available for me as I am for them. None of them can provide me with the ‘saviour’ I crave. It’s easier to deal with things alone; at least that way I can’t be disappointed. 

I am a lonely person. I try to support others as far as I can, because it’s one way of connecting with people and developing relationships. But sometimes it feels like my friends only contact or connect with me when I have something I can give them. I can’t help feeling like I only have a purpose when they need me. Which leads me to feel that I’m not really worth much at all, except for what others can use me for.

I extend myself to my friends more than anyone else I know. I’m not sharing that because I’m full of myself or wanting to show off, but because it highlights the extent to which I try and make the world a better place for others in every possible way, all the fucking time. It is a huge problem for me and I will be the first one to admit it. I know I’m like this for a multitude of reasons relating to my past, but I think I’m starting to realise more than ever that it is not working for me any more. When you give and give and give but get little back in return, it starts to take its toll. It’s been taking its toll for a while now. That’s where I am tonight. 

Someone said to me earlier today that “there is something you can learn from everyone“. Off the back of this comment I have decided to take a lesson from some of my friends. I need to make a commitment to myself, and to anyone reading this, to start interacting with my friends in the same way they interact with me. I need to learn to be less available, more unreliable, and more self-interested. I have to stop putting myself in a position where I will drop everything for everyone, all the time, even when it doesn’t suit me. I have genuinely done that my whole life and it’s about time I started putting myself first – at least occasionally. I’m tired of being there for everyone else when they are rarely there for me in return. 

Like I’ve titled this post, it’s pretty self explanatory really; it’s about time that I took some time off from saving the world, so that I can start to save myself.

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18 thoughts on “I Need Time Off From Saving the World So I Can Save Myself 

  1. OMG – I so hear you! I find it EXACTLY the same. It’s one of the reasons I loathe when people say those with BPD have no empathy as I think we have more empathy than any others – after all we are always trying to please, so we feel accepted, validated and secure. (ultimately because we want the security of feeling loved and attached; deeply). But I recall many years ago Oprah saying that so many of us suffer from the disease to please. I reckon she’s right you know. One of the things I talk so much with my therapist about is my ‘unrelenting standards’…(its a schema – have you done schema therapy with your T?)….but I am like that because I don’t want to let anyone down, disappoint anyone through my imperfections or have to live with knowing others are ‘going off me’ because I’m not meeting their standards.(abandonment issues as it ALWAYS gets back to). So I put EVERYTHING into my friendships in order to have this security and it hurts like hell when you don’t see it reciprocated. Its all a load of crap to fill our lives, our minds and our being with these thoughts and actions but its part of our wiring. Its my hardest goal to attain in not caring what others think – and I really want to succeed at it!! (oh the irony!!! lol). Lets just give ourselves a break and think entirely of ourselves, at least for long enough to get a taste of it being REALLY REALLY ok to be like that. BB, if you ever want to reach out to me, I’m more than happy for you to have my email…and sometimes its easiest to learn how to ask for help, with the safety of many miles and a computer screen, between 2 people, in some or the first instances – especially from another BPD’er that fully understands.

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    • Exactly! And also one of my biggest fears is evoking the feeling I am so desperate to avoid in others, because I know what it’s like. So if anyone feels lonely, upset, disappointed, betrayed or rejected by me, I can’t deal with the guilt. Ironically I’m the one who ends up feeling that way because of the nature of the friendships…
      thank you that’s so kind of you. I think in that moment it was that I needed someone right there and then, (most namely my therapist but she is awake and it was late,) but people were either a) unavailable b) making it all about them or c) I just didn’t feel able to trust/ open my heart to them. Thanks for your message and kind wise words as always!! I totally agree x

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  2. You already know how insanely accurate our posts are for each other – I could have written this one myself! Just a thought: maybe it’s not so much about needing to be more unreliable to others as it is about needing to be more reliable to yourself. I know that’s basically an issue of semantics but just a thought I had. I know it’s not the same as IRL friends but you have my email. Email me any time if you need to talk. 💕🤗

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  3. I can relate to this at the moment. I emailed a friend at work yesterday because she seems to be having a hard time at the moment. But I know that she wouldn’t do the same if it was the other way around. That feels quite selfish though. It’s usually the people taking care of others who need care the most.

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  4. You can’t save anyone else ’til you save yourself.
    And even then, you can’t save anyone else.
    You are not responsible for anyone but yourself.
    Self-care sometimes involves being “selfish”. Plot twist: it’s not selfish – it’s self-care (hence the name). Relationships that aren’t reciprocal aren’t worth having; they, too, take from you more than they give. Their “promise” is in the name alone (‘friend’ or ‘relationship’), but that in itself – by itself -is hollow.
    From one friend to another, from someone who used to spend her life feeling this way:
    There is a way out.
    Loneliness is a feeling, not a state.
    Realising that your “friends” aren’t friends is a learning curve; whilst that in itself is painful, it is relative – and temporary. Like taking the plaster off a wound. It stings, yes, but it doesn’t create the wound – merely expose it.
    I have fewer friends now, but I have friends. Real friends. Friends I know I can count on. People I can actually talk to. People I actually connect with. I have what I always wanted. I am lucky and I am grateful but I am not “unique”; this is not a special-snowflake situation. This is what happens when you face yourself and your reality; when you realise how inherently unstable it is and you set about to rectify this in your own right. By you, for you.
    If you are aware of how toxic this is (and it seems like you are?), then you can change it. Own your power. You have so much more than you realise.
    Good luck. Things do “get better”. I promise. I am living proof x
    PS Thank you

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    • Thank you 😊 these people are most certainly my friends, they just get a bit unaware when they are having a hard time, and because of how I can be, they probably have learnt sub consciously that I’ll be there no matter what and that they can use me to their advantage. It’s not a malicious or conscious thing, it’s just how things look on occasion. In my situation, it’s not going to be about getting rid of these friendships – I have very few and these friends mean everything to me – but I agree I have a certain amount of power and so what I’m doing is stepping back/ changing the way I relate to them. So that people start to stop taking me from granted, and more effort comes from them. I hope that makes sense! Thanks for your response and I’m very happy you’ve found something that works for you. It’s not about quantity but quality when in comes to those near and dear to us x

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  5. Thanks. I really needed this.

    I struggle all of the time with never having had “friends.” When I grew up, there was not only a dearth of children nearby, but my mom wouldn’t let me play with other kids much. I guess being drunk all of the time can get in the way of proper parenting.

    I struggle with having been randomly victimized throughout my life.

    I teeter on what you say in closing words about treating others the way they treat me. I yell out to myself that that’s not what I *want* to do, but the violation of trust that I feel when friends promise to visit me and don’t or promise to call and don’t, but when they need something, they seem to remember my phone number with no problem.

    This most recent therapist I had told me that, yea, people are mean and nasty and you cannot depend on them. That’s true, she said. And that I should depend on outcomes, she said. Well, that just sucks. As it stands, I’m so exhausted from trying to build friendships that I’m trying to figure out just how much I *need* friendships. I’ve been doing fine on my own for 45 years. The worst pain I feel is when someone “shoves” me into the idea that I should have friends or companions. That hurts. Like no other pain I’ve felt in my life. Why should I have people in my life that are going to use me and ignore me? I feel like I invest in friendships, and when that doesn’t pan out, especially when I need something and have been generous with myself and my time with “friends,” I feel like something has been stolen from me. It feels worse than that, actually, but I’m not willing to dig into it right now.

    I’ve been told time and again that I invite it, that I choose the wrong people to be in my life. What a lame response. Blame the victim. “It’s not everyone else. It’s your pathetic skills at choosing friends.” Well, then I’d rather hone other skills that can help me acquire the things I do fundamentally need than inviting people into my life that are going to leave me drained and psychotic.

    Anyway, great post.

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    • One thing my therapist has tried to get me to understand is that perpetrators and bullies (of all kinds) look for easy targets. There are many things about me that make me an easy target which are completely beyond my control (my size, my gender, my age) and some things that make it even harder which are not my ‘fault’ either (my eagerness to please people, my struggle with standing up for myself, the belief that I deserve to be hurt anyway because of past experiences). It has been shown that people who have experienced trauma are much more likely to be victims of further trauma. How unfair is that? There is so much cruelty in the world but that cruelty does not lie within you. Victim blaming says so much more about the other person and their inability to sit with the painful reality of the victim and what they’ve been through.

      I’m sorry you’ve had such challenging experiences and am glad you found some comfort in what I wrote. You do whatever you gotta do, for YOU – not for anyone else. It’s about time, ‘ey? Take care 🙂

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