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.

Self-Soothing 

Self-soothing refers to carrying out acts of love and compassion towards oneself, especially during times of distress and difficult emotionality. Self-soothing is usually implemented via one or more of the five senses: visuals, sounds, sensations, smells and tastes. The function of self-soothing is to edge towards regulating oneself by acting in a way that may feel unfamiliar and counter-intuitive, but that is actually healthy and effective. An example for me would be during periods of anxiety – during which I tend to pick incessantly at my cuticles and nails. The “opposite action to emotion (of anxiety)” that I try to carry out during these moments is one of self-love and self-care, despite how unsettled I may be feeling inside and my urges to subtly attack myself: The action of applying a scented moisturiser to my hands and focusing on the senses of smell and touch helps me to stop clawing at my hands and hurting myself. And instead treat my body, and in turn my mind, with compassion.

During therapy last week, my therapist observed that (for the most part) I struggle with implementing regular self-soothing techniques for myself. The homework she gave me was therefore to compile a list of self-soothing activities which I can then start to integrate into my life.

Here is a realistic and individualised list of ideas I have come up with so far:

  • Take a long hot bubble bath
  • Light candles and incense and turn my room into a sanctuary
  • Watch the flame of a candle mindfully for ten minutes
  • Listen to a mindfulness meditation
  • Phone my Boston friends and treatment providers for a chat
  • Cuddle my dogs or little sisters
  • Do some writing or draft a blog post
  • Watch funny videos on the Internet
  • Watch my all-time favourite documentary Human Planet
  • Turn my phone off and read a gripping book
  • Play Scrabble with my Mum
  • Dot lavender oil onto my pillows and sheets and inhale the scent
  • Snuggle with my teddy bears curled up in bed with a warm duvet
  • Get into my onesie/ dressing gown for comfort
  • Go outside and spend ten minutes being mindful on the swing
  • Make myself a hot and yummy drink
  • Listen to beautiful soothing music
  • Do some colouring or crafts
  • Walk to my “special place” in the woods
  • Lie on the fresh grass with the sun on my face and get in touch with nature
  • Play piano
  • Go on a gentle scooter ride
  • Take the dogs for a walk
  • Look through old (non-triggering) photos
  • Read through my Goodbye Book from Boston and validate my progress
  • Remind myself of all the people who truly care about me
  • Buy myself some flowers to put in my bedroom
  • Cook myself a healthy tasty meal, and eat it slowly and mindfully
  • Go swimming
  • Have a nap
  • Treat myself to a massage
  • Go outside at night and look at the stars
  • Paint my nails
  • Moisturise with pleasantly scented skin lotion