Every now and then this sentiment makes its way around the social media sites again. I get it….but I hate it.
And this one…with the quotes…irks me more. As if my busy doesn’t qualify. As if what I offer is artificial care.
If you are my friend, I DO care. I really care. But, because I care for so many of you I have already said yes to the group that needs help at their event. I’ve said yes to the friend who wants to have coffee to talk over her troubles. I’ve said yes to the classroom that needs 4 dozen cookies. I’ve said yes to the boss who asked for assistance with a big project. I’ve said yes to the ex who wants company for his hospital stay.
I said yes too much. And, maybe, your request came after all those yeses. Maybe you asked me to lunch to laugh and right now all those people in need outweigh my desire to laugh. Maybe your free time doesn’t coordinate with mine right now, around my son and my work and my parents and my home. Maybe I’m too over-extended to take up one more thing.
Please! Understand that my inability to call you back or have lunch or meet for a drink has nothing to do with my care for you. I want you to understand that there are days when getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment I am capable of. I need you to understand that I am very bad at self-care and on those rare occasions when I put my foot down and tell myself I must step back – I have to follow through. I beg of you to understand that I am aching for you in my heart, but I know I have nothing left to give to you – so I must find space and time to be whole again.
I am a guilt magnet. I hold guilt for other people’s choices. I carry guilt for not doing more. I compound guilt by binding my thoughts with “what ifs.” I do not have the strength to take up the guilt of not being who you need me to be.
If you are in trouble – if you truly need me – I will be there for you. My friends are precious to me and, honestly, a great deal of my time not sleeping at night is spent mulling over your dilemmas. I want to be able to help you, to support you, to care for you. But in that process I have neglected myself. I am hurting, too, and sometimes that needs to heal before I can reach out to you.
To the one who misses her mom – I hug you in my dreams at night
To the one who is finding her way after leaving an unhealthy relationship – I wonder if you are finding strength and clarity in your journey
To the one who still feels overwhelmed with grief after the loss of his mother – I anguish to not know the way to bring you peace.
To the one who is a new mom and full of questions – I want you to pause and take a breath, you are doing fine.
To the one who is fighting health issues you never imagined – I hope you trust the doctors, they are trained for this.
To the ones who struggle with their children – I wonder if you remember that you know what’s right in your heart, stay strong and true and things will turn around soon.
To the ones who need more help in their organization – I’m sorry I had to step away. I’m glad I could help for a while and I will always tell others what a great group you are and encourage them to volunteer.
To the one who cried on my shoulder; the one who remembers me from years ago; the one who messaged me this afternoon; the one who needs just one more report; the one who asked for a reference letter; the one who saw me at the grocery store; the one who volunteered me for a project; the one who wants to go to dinner; the one who doesn’t understand the email program; the one who needs just one more thing hooked up right; the one who needs another volunteer; the one who is sure I’ll have just the right answer…………
I am doing the best I can for all of us. Some days, that falls very short of mediocre. But, don’t ever believe I don’t care. When my mind and my body are too weak to show up, or when my time has been allotted to another – understand that there is a place in my heart that is still for you – always for you. I care. And when I can, I will show up. All I can do is ask forgiveness for all the times I can’t. There will be times – maybe too many times – when I can’t.
It’s never because I don’t care.
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