“You know Yetti, a part of self-care is learning to support people without taking on their problems too. We need to come up for a self-care plan for him, so he can balance the stress and bring it home.”
I am on day God knows what of constantly feeling like I am on the verge of an anxiety attack. I go to sleep with heaviness in my chest, and I wake up in a sweaty panic leaving me unsettled for the rest of the day. I am averaging about 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night, and being on edge most of the working day is making it incredibly hard to do what I am supposed to be doing, and do it well. The above quote comes from my therapist a few weeks ago during our session. It was at that moment where I came to the realization that I am an extremely empathetic individual. An overly empathetic individual. Meaning everyone’s problems all of a sudden become my problems. And somehow, I’ve kind of become my people’s go to person to vent to.
Something comes over me when a loved one is unhappy, is in trouble, or is hurting. Immediately I think: How do I fix this? And before even gauging if that is what they need from me, I begin to plan with them. I begin to try and soothe them with the idea of hope, and take on the problems myself as my way of showing them I care, and showing them that they are not alone. I essentially want to save them.
But in doing so, I put me, Yetti, in harms way. And who is saving me then? Who gets to save Yetti?
I’ve asked myself that question quite a few times these passed 12 months.
“Who is saving Yetti?” And the best answer I can think of is well… myself. I’m the only person that can save me. But if that is the case for myself, why can’t others save themselves? Why can’t I allow them to do that for themselves?
I’ve been trying to figure out ways to effectively support someone while taking a back seat to their drama and not taking it on as my own, but to be honest? I feel incredibly guilty doing so, especially for those who I know reach out to me because of this amazing yet debilitating quality that I have. Especially for those that I call family.
As the eldest of the Nigerian household, there are some standards you need to live up to. You’re the go to child to help fix whatever it is that is unfolding, and you do so with pride, because that is just your role. And though I love my family, and my brother and sister are my whole ass world, I hit my “It’s handled” quota earlier this year, and stepped away from the solution solving for the Ajayi-Obes. I do so in hopes of stepping back into my own space to figure out the Rubik’s cube that is my mental-health.
You see, that is what is at stake when you get wrapped up in other people’s problems. Your mental-health. Your wellness as a whole. Your well-deserved peace.
So I am slowly putting into effect a self-care plan that shields me from unexpected wars, because my sanity seems to crumble when I get wrapped up in fighting a battle I was never meant to be involved with in the first place. I am learning to distance myself from folks that only appear when shit hits the fan, and they need someone to bear the unstable winds with them. And I’m trying my best to honor my need for peace by loving people from afar and providing them support that doesn’t attach to my own energy pool.
Because the truth is, I am in no position to save others right now, because I need all my energy to fucking save myself.
And that’s okay too.12