Remember having a small group of close friends when you were a kid and two of them had a falling out? One of them would expect you stop being friends with the other person. You would hear, “If you are really my friend, you won’t play with them anymore!” It didn’t matter if three days later everyone was over it. You were asked in the heat of the moment to make a decision and it was hard. It wasn’t fair. Or you had a fight with your brother or sister and mom came in on the tail end of it, not knowing who was responsible and you both got in trouble. That felt unfair too. Little did we know, it was the precursor to figuring out that we would continue to find ourselves in impossibly unfair situations and often. Those rock and a hard place positions. The damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I am one of those people who have tried all of my life to make everyone happy and much too often at my own expense. I do it because it feels like the right thing to do and if my parents taught me one thing to live by, it was to do the right thing. You don’t shirk responsibilities. You don’t turn your back on someone in need. And if you say you are going to do it, then do it. See it through. The unfortunate part of that is sometimes you don’t know what you are getting yourself into and it’s too late when you find yourself miserably in the midst of it and there’s no turning back. At what point do you say, “Enough is enough?” When does doing the right thing become the wrong thing? When have you sacrificed enough?
Time and again, my husband and I have gone through those situations. I’d like to think it’s because we are good people. When it looks like there’s a role for us to step into because it makes sense to do so, we jump in with both feet. It doesn’t always turn out well. We have more than paid our dues for anything we might have had to answer for. But, when you start questioning the “rightness” of a situation, maybe continuing in it, is no longer right. When you’ve gotten to the point where you are asking those questions, it’s seriously time to rethink what’s going on. It’s like anything that whittles away at your relationships and/or leaves you mentally and physically exhausted, when do you call it quits? We don’t want to feel like we failed, especially if we’ve tried really hard. No one likes to admit they’ve reached their limit, but we can, and we do. You wonder how doing something supposedly right ends up being so horribly wrong in the end. Why you are paying dearly for having good intentions. The question that bears addressing first is how much longer can I keep this up? Or is it a matter of asking for help? Maybe I just need to adjust things and see if it makes a difference. Being honest about that answer, is the saving grace. At that point, start making plans to make a change. While I have always lived by the idea that nothing in this life is permanent, there are times when it feels like something you are going through will be permanent and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Getting through those strained, dark days is tough. It might even feel hopeless or very lonely. While the circumstances are not similar, the feelings you have can be similar to being stuck in a job you hate, a bad relationship, or the death of a loved one. There’s a grieving process for the life you aren’t living because of your obligations. The yearning and longing for how things were before can take over. When the balance of those feelings far outweigh any good happening, it tilts the apple cart. It’s too easy to plummet into depression or to give up on life completely.
All I can offer about this is to not let it get to that point. Look at the alternatives and if they don’t work, then it’s time to admit you’ve come to the end of the road with the situation. I have gotten to that bad place more than once and couldn’t even get my head straight enough to find a solution to what seemed like an impossible situation. My health, both mentally and physically were in jeopardy, not to mention my marriage. The sacrifices were too great and I couldn’t see a way out. And when I did try that far into things, it didn’t go well. Desperation leads to bad choices and rash actions. The longer you live like that, the worse things become. Trying to find your way back from that is one really long, tough road.
It’s possible that we weren’t the only ones who could have stepped up. Maybe if we had just waited a little longer, looked at things a little harder, made sure we weren’t taking on too much, we wouldn’t get to that place. Hindsight is 20/20. The drive to do what’s right is sometimes bigger than the reasoning for not doing it. Even if it probably always will be, you don’t have to set yourself up for a fall. And maybe we were supposed to take on the things we did. It’s possible that we just didn’t have a plan to go along with it. We were ill prepared. Take a breath. Look at all angles. Ease into things and always have an exit strategy that’s good for everyone in case it doesn’t work out. So, when faced with a life altering decision, put those elements into place and go in with eyes wide open. Saying a lot of prayers helps too.