I won’t. I’m not sorry. I can not always make time for someone, no matter how much I care about them. I can not be there for even my closest friends, for even my family “no matter what” because I have to care for myself. Sometimes I am completely drained and I have no energy, physical or emotional. If you come to me at one of these times, it is unfair to assume I don’t care about you.
Sometimes I don’t have the emotional capacity to talk to anyone. I can’t send you a message back immediately just because you are hurting. I will always be there for people when I can. I will always try to listen to friends, to commiserate, empathize, give advice… However, sometimes I’m curled up in a ball on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me, a teddy bear in my arms playing stupid games on my phone because I can’t handle anything more emotionally involved.
I refuse to apologize for not being there. I will not apologize for being myself. I am so sick of seeing those posts on social media from friends and mental health pages saying that I have to be there for someone, no matter what, if I really care. In reality, because I care, I can’t be there every time something triggers you because some of those times I need to be there for myself. If I don’t do this, if I don’t take care of myself emotionally, if I don’t take breaks to recharge my soul, at some point I will break down. When this happens, I can’t be there for anyone for a much, much longer period of time.
I know that there are a lot of us trying to be there for everyone we care about. It leaves us drained and, at times, emotionally empty. I encourage you to step away. If you need to, close your browser, put down your phone, turn it off, stay home, go out. I have had friends temporarily ban me from a facebook group that I ran so I would stop trying to be there for everyone and start being there for myself. I declared a day “off” even though I don’t work. I declared Sunday to be my day off, my day for me.
For those of you that don’t work, I encourage you to also consider a day off. For me, it meant that if you messaged me with your problem, you knew it would be handled the next day. It meant I didn’t have to keep apologizing for not being able to help someone with their coping skills because since it was my ‘day off’ they knew they were supposed to find someone else to help them with these things or to wait.
Being able to admit you cannot always be there for someone you care about is extremely difficult, and also extremely liberating. I need to have days when I can only worry about my own issues, when I can let everything else go. I need these times when I can seek out support specifically instead of giving it. That is how support is supposed to work. You can make sacrifices for those you care for, but please don’t sacrifice your own happiness or sanity. The people that love you, that you love, will learn to understand the need for self care. It’s a hard process to start, but it is worth it.
You don’t have to be strong every day. You don’t have to be the rock every day. You are allowed to be the one that needs a rock. You are allowed to take care of yourself.