I don’t know if I’m a good person.

Am I a good person anymore?  Sometimes I can’t tell.

I can say with certainty that I’d help the little old lady in the grocery aisle reach her jar of spaghetti sauce or stop and help someone I saw on the street who’d collapsed.  I’d capture dogs running amok on a busy street and I’d happily sit with a lost child until his parents were found.  I care for Peyton with a tireless passion and all the love in my body and work hard to figure out my relationships with my sister and mother like a good daughter and sister.

But lately I have also been judgmental and almost incapable of keeping secrets (ok, one secret of one friend, which I shared with The Neighbor).  I’m fed up with the decisions my friends (and family) have been making which render them either miserable or powerless or both.  I am a woman of agency: if something isn’t working fix it or end it or stop bitching about it.  Leave me out of it.

I really and truly try to live by that motto, despite what it may have seemed like with my own life.  After all, The Neighbor behaved very badly in the past and many (many) of you thought I should dump his ass.

I was asked by a friend last week why I decided to stay with him through all of that.  We’re new-ish friends and we have only hung out 3 times over the past year.  Our dates are peppered with lots of personal revelations and artisan cheeses and she remembers our first meeting where TN was being distant and non-commital and probably a huge jackass — such a far cry from where he is today.

“What was it about him?” she asked me, leaning forward waiting for my answer. “How did you know things would change?”

“I didn’t,” I told her.  “I broke up with him 3 or 4 times, but he wouldn’t leave me alone.  So, I guess he made that decision in the end.”

“But you could’ve broken off contact,” she pressed, her bullshit-meter going off.  As a long-time singleton who has increasingly entered a black-and-white way of thinking when it comes to dating, she didn’t understand the complexities of our situation and why on earth I’d keep letting him back into my life, and she wanted to know my secret to what seems like a successful relationship today.

“True,” I admitted, “but it’s a lot harder to ignore a knock on your door than it is a text or a phone call.  And, to be honest, it felt good to be chased after.”

And there it was. Was I that friend not too long ago who exhausted her friends and their emotional resources like I feel my friends are doing to me now?

Add to that a growing sense that the friends I do have — many of my decades and longer friendships — feel strangely removed from me.   I am a satellite, distantly safe.  I’m not really all that involved and I kinda like it that way.

Growing up, my  mother taught me that to be a good friend you lavished attention and care on your friends, you never gossiped or shared stories, you exhausted yourself during birthday parties and important events and you were always available when needed.

Today, I realize that is a recipe for disaster because as beautiful a scene it is, it’s a flower-filled meadow with no fence.  When do you stop? When do you rest?  By my mother’s thinking: never; but by most other people’s: frequently.  Which then means you’re the only one going beyond the hills while your friends hang out at their fence replenishing their own resources and maintaining good boundaries and you feel gypped, or worse: unworthy.

So, I’m in a bind.  On the one hand I think I have a right to my compassion fatigue, on the other, I feel like a shit person and even worse, a shit friend.

 

 

 

 

A 40-something single mother who writes honestly about sex, body image, D/s, relationships, her nervous tics, and how much she loves to fucking fuck. She also likes to show you her tits.

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35 thoughts on “I don’t know if I’m a good person.
  1. You are not a shit person. You are a person with a lot going on both mentally and physically. And, don’t fall down here, you are human! Tada! And as a side note, the older I get, the reclusive I have become…..people can just be exhausting at times, or most of the time. I loved your comment about a flower-filled meadow with no fence. There always has to be limits. There always has to be time to refill your own well. OK, there is my 2 cents worth but Hy, I honestly think you are just too durn hard on yourself at times.

    r

  2. I used to be the the one my family called to do the heavy lifting, when they needed money, food cooked for an event. When friends needed a party or a shower thrown, they called for a decorator. I actually cleaned a “friend’s” house from top to bottom and got a respiratory infection because of the mold.

    But these people weren’t around for me. So I had to be around for me. I had to learn how to say “No.” I had to take time for me. Cut out the emotional vampires. After that, I was left with 2 or 3 real friends. I cherish those people. Those people cherish me. Be a good friend to yourself. Then see where everyone else falls into place.
    xo,
    Sarah

  3. You know, of course, asking your followers this rhetoric question will get you the same biased and completely conditioned response as if you asked your cat if they wanted to eat.

    There’s a reason your mind is making you ponder this, and that’s where the real answer lies…

    xo/JTK

    1. Thanks for your note, JTK, and good point, but I’m not asking anybody for anything. I suppose asking the “Was I that kind of friend” remark could be viewed as that, but no one here could answer that because none of you know me in real life. I’m just sharing my current struggle as I always do with y’all. Perhaps someone else is feeling similarly.

      This post was in no way a call for anything other than a discussion about the complexities of feelings and relationships. If I feel like I’m an asshole, a bunch of comments aren’t going to change my mind. Though, it’s always nice to know I’m not alone.

      Look, the thing is is I’m fatigued; the buffer is basically nonexistent. I’m going to have to be more gentle with myself and avoid labels lest I ignore better questions about the relationships themselves. It’s easier to call myself judgmental than it is to say I have unsatisfactory friendships. That’s a scary thought.

  4. Of course you are a good person. One of the best. It’s in your nature to doubt yourself. That’s why we’re here. To set you straight when required.

    Mike

    1. Ha! Of course YOU would say that, Mike! Way to prove JTK right! :P

      I swear I didn’t mean for anyone to jump in and tell me I’m a good person! This is about the conflicting feelings I have about the very rigid guidelines I was given to be a good person in the face of my very real negative feelings about friends and family.

      I was just hoping someone else might have the same experience about themselves. But as always, thank you for your kindness :) xx Hy

      1. Yes, I think we get it. I think we’re just telling you to lighten up. It can get pretty tiring dragging all that baggage around on your shoulders

  5. I was just telling someone earlier today that I dont have a lot of friends and have found that most of them require more work than I’m willing to put into. I know that probably sounds bad but it’s the truth. It’s not that I don’t want them, I do. I’m just not comfortable with the games that usually get played by women.

    Can’t say I agree with your mum either. I have given time and time again to those I considered friends over the years. I had put them before myself and my family at times. Only for those efforts to not be appreciated or worse yet reciprocated when I needed to them be. I learned my lesson. Now I come first and with that my family. If people don’t like it, appreciate it or underatand it that’s on them. Not me.

    Remarkably I find the women I’ve met here much more compatible to my personality than those that are physically around me. I think it has something to do with people feeling comfortable being themselves online. They omit the filter that is normally in place, there’s no trying to impress with false lashes and designer handbags. It’s raw, true, genuine and authentic. That’s what I’m after in friendships, truth without the need to apologize. xo

    1. Hey, you obviously don’t know me really well yet. But whether here or in real life, you can wait a long time before you see me walking around with fake lashes and designer handbags. Fuck, it’s a good day if I’ve had a pedicure!
      Ok, that last part may have to do with the fact that pedicures are much more expensive here than they were in the States, and that I have much less money now that I have left my husband as well ;-)
      But I’ve never been one for designer clothes and such. I mean, if I like the design, maybe, but most of the time, I cannot be bothered to spend that much money on something. I’d rather by better food or do something fun with my kids. I suppose it’s a choice of life :-)

      1. Oh I didn’t mean I don’t like having nice things or that it bothers me if others do. Fuck, I am a girl and I like my purses after all. lol

        I just meant I don’t need the polish for someone to be my friend. It’s not what attracts me to them. It’s what is on the inside, ya know. :-)

        1. Yes, I know.
          I’m right there with you my friend :-)
          But you’re right, I think the Internet allows us to be rawer than we would be in real life, more liberated too.
          I am probably a much different person in real life, even though I try very hard to be true to myself here and there. It’s sometimes harder to remain true to oneself when that truth has changed a lot in little time and people around us haven’t…

    2. Yeah, my poor mother’s view is a tad ridiculous; it hasn’t worked well for her, either. I’m glad I’ve learned the error of her ways, but it’s funny how I still have to shake it off even all these years later.

      And I agree about the degrees to which we’re more raw in our blogging. It seems so easy and natural to find good peeps to connect with :) xx Hy

  6. I can be the same way (giving everything for friends) it’s why I don’t have many close ones. I invest a lot and it’s taxing so I need to really want to be your friend for me dig deep.

    You’re not though. A bad friend that is. Give yourself a break. :)

    1. I dunno, by definition I’ve not been the best by most standards. On the other hand, I’ve maxed out the compassion receptacle. My hands are tied and after much reflection, I’m gonna just have to be ok with what I’ve got to give right now.

      And I’m not at all surprised that you’re a giver of that kind; just look at how much you put into your writing and all of us :) xx Hy

  7. Ok, you want advice from someone who’s been there?
    Tada! Here I come!!
    I don’t know if I should write a post length comment or just point you to that post where I think I talked about that feeling the most.
    Actually, I just read it again. Maybe it’s not the one I thought. I do brush on it just at the end. But it’s a long read, so I won’t feel offended if you don’t read it ;-)
    https://dawnsnight.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/depression-is-a-bitch-2/

    Now, as far as having been there… when my kids were small, I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital because I felt suicidal and also feared I’d hurt my babies.
    And while I was there, I learnt that I just couldn’t keep giving as much as I had. That after giving all the time, I would have no energy left to keep giving to those around me, particularly my children.
    So I had to learn how to take care of myself, put myself near the top of the priority list so that I didn’t collapse and still could keep on giving. You know, it’s a bit like in airplanes. They tell you that, in case of depressurisation, you need to put your own mask on first before you assist anyone with theirs. Because if you help the others first, they may be fine but you won’t have enough time to put your own mask on before you collapse. And if they weren’t able to put their own mask on, they certainly won’t be able to help you with yours. Think about it that way: what good does it do the child to be alive if his mom is dead? Granted, it’s better than nothing if there was no other choice, but really, if you help yourself first, then both can be alive in the end, which is a far better scenario!

    Well, it’s the same in regular life. Look at it that way: I’m sure my children (I’m not sure about my husband; I think me being ill was a big inconvenience for him!) would have preferred I took better care of myself and didn’t break down completely, didn’t need to be away from them for 3 weeks. It’s like in the oxygen mask analogy. They would have preferred to have me alive than dead.

    From this experience, I took away that it was important to take care of myself. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn. It took me many more years to realise I was worth taking some time for myself. It certainly wasn’t an instantaneous lesson. I’m still working on it.
    Because I think both you and I and numerous other people, we have this deep need to be of service to others, and we have a lot of empathy. So we pick up on the smallest details. It does drain us if we don’t sometimes put blinders on to give us some time to recover. It’s not you being selfish, it’s you recharging batteries so that you can help those friends in need better next time.
    And if they didn’t help you in your time of need… then they don’t deserve your getting sick over helping them!
    So stop worrying about what others think. Being selfish is not living your life the way you want to live it, it’s asking other people to live their life the way you want.
    So you’re not selfish. And even if you were, it would still not make you a bad person ;-)
    Big hugs, and good luck :-)

    1. Ha! Excellent all around and I couldn’t agree more! As I’ve said in other comments, over the years I’ve learned healthier boundaries – thank goodness! – but what I’ve been wrestling with lately has been the idea instilled in me that I’m not allowed to feel negatively. THATS what makes me feel like an asshole, though logically (and after much thought) in just gonna have to relax about it.

      Also, the worry that I was a soul sucking, leeching friend in the past haha.

      I’m glad that you were able to get the help you needed all those years ago. That must have been such a frightening time in your life before you got help, but what an important lesson! xx Hy

      PS: I reread that post. You’re a special soul, Dawn, and I truly hope you craft the life you really want :)

      1. We are always entitled to our feelings.
        It seems easy to write it and even to read it, but I still have trouble ‘living’ it.
        So you should never feel bad about feeling negative. I’m pretty sure Elle didn’t feel very peachy after being stood up on her Birthday. Which doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still love that person.
        Aren’t there times when you don’t *like* Peyton, when you feel negative about your kid? When you’re tired, they are too, and they’re demanding so much, more than you can give, throwing tantrums and such? (Or is it just me? Please, tell me I’m not the only one who had kids who occasionally threw tantrums!).
        Yet that doesn’t mean you don’t *love* that precious child still.
        It’s the same with friendships or relationships. It’s Ok to acknowledge your hurt feelings, your negative feelings. Actually, I’d say it’s healthier to acknowledge them rather than to let the hurt boil inside until you can’t take it any more.
        But in friendships and relationships, the love has to be nurtured from both sides. If not, then after a while you feel depleted and taken advantage of and your self-confidence falls drastically. I should know, I experienced it for many years.
        So don’t feel bad about feeling negative towards friends.
        I still remember that story in my kids’ school. “You’re not filling my bucket”.
        Oh, I went ahead and googled it. Here is a link to the story ;-)
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5R6-2m_qHk

        About being a leech… It’s funny you should write that, I used those exact same words about a week ago with probably my closest friend.

        As for your last comment… Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

  8. I go through the same argument in my head. I let people drain me to the point that *I* am depressed, angry, exhausted. And then, when I cannot anymore, I collapse, either literally or figuratively, and snap and retreat, and worry even more about whether or not I am a good person. Repeat cycle.
    Sir tells me I’m too nice. I give too much of myself. I am hard up to say no to people in need. These are all true. I am a giver and a pleaser and like you, too good of a person sometimes. You are so good a person, Hy, that when you start feeling burnt out you still worry whether you’re good or not. You’re a great person.
    Sometimes we just need to say no and focus on ourselves. And I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not you were “that friend.” Everyone is like that once in awhile, however, there is a difference between occasionally being more needy emotionally because you’re going through a rough patch, and being a constant emotional drain on all your loved ones.

    Love you.

    xoxo

    1. It’s the feeling negatively about people that I care about that’s the toughest. I’m quite good in my 30s about saying no and having good boundaries (but it was tough in my 20s!). In my world growing up, there was no room to ever be fed up or turned off; you were just supposed to give endlessly. It’s funny that even at almost 40 I wrestle with being ok with all my own feelings. Thanks for sharing, Fay. I’m always glad to know my wild thoughts are had by others :) Love you too. xx Hy

  9. Oh no Hy! I’ve not read any of the replies above, I just had to respond ASAP first. You’re not a shit friend, not in the slightest. If anything many of us forget to be a true friend to ourself first. Selfish maybe, but to a larger extent, there really is usually THE one to fall back upon, ourselves. Give what you can, but preserve for yourself so that you can continue to give. Be kind to yourself, keep a slight distance if you need, hold close the few that you hold dear & life will hopefully seem calmer :) hugs to you hun! xx

  10. There has to be give and take in any friendship or else it’s not a friendship. Yes, as you get older you’re less apt to entertain fools. It’s called wisdom. I have one close friend who even made a major friendship blunder last week, but I could easily forgive her because it’s such a rarity. We are real with each other, no pretense. Tragedy struck in my family last year and, although it hurt like hell, the friendship garden got weeded. I was sure these girls whom I called friends would stand the test, but they did not. Just a couple proved to be true and I’m grateful for that. Making new friends is done carefully for me niw. I don’t ignore certain signs that I once brushed off.

  11. Observation here: you’re presenting a whole lot of questions without any answers or options. Either you can’t see any options or solutions for you, or you’ve silenced/compartmentalized them in order to not present them ’cause they may hurt people here.

    That shit is self-censoring, and I betcha it’s a (fairly large) part of the emotional exhaustion you’re feeling right now, Hy.

    1. I was seeing it with no options because I felt like I had none; wasn’t worried about anyone here. I’ve since thought long and hard on it and have discovered a good option: feel my feelings, keep an eye on my friendships I feel are taxing, change them if things don’t get better. :)

      1. Heh. That makes me wanna throw a question out there about how you can change friendships like that when you’re not good at changing intimate relationships that way’. That age-old question of healthy boundaries…

        But I won’t. ;)

        1. I thought I was specific in my post: I have some close friends and family whose decisions lately border on the insane. Naturally, drama ensues and it’s all they can talk about. It consumes them, me, all the space in between. I felt like a shit person because I felt so negatively towards them.

          In my lizard brain, though, I’m not allowed to feel negatively towards anyone. Thus, I had this inner conflict and the only thing I felt comfortable feeling at the time rather than say, “Gee, I need to get some space from these energy-sucking people” was, “I suck,” because that was easier for me to say. I struggle with the former greatly, but it’s where I am now and I’m ok with it.

          So that’s how I’m going to change them (because I’m totally capable as a grown up now). I’m going to create space and better boundaries. If that still doesn’t work then I’ll have to reorganize them to somewhere else in my life.

          Clear as mud now? :)

          1. Aye, I was applying it to some of the questions you raised last year (and in 2012) with regard to TN – thinking about how you felt that way towards him at times, yet didn’t really reconfigure with him at that time.

            Which, in essence (as I suspect you know…) is really me poking at you about this for no good reason other than I’m an INTJ pain in the ass. Heh. ;)

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