Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sharing Deeply

I thought of putting up a "Gone Fishing" sign on my blog this week, as I had made a promise to myself that I would post happy, inspiring things here.  I am breaking that promise to myself and my readers (badly), in the hope that my openness will help others who are hurting.

This week sucked.  In fact, the past couple of weeks have pretty much sucked.  You see, we have a loved one who suffers from addiction.  Addiction sucks.  Anyway, our family member's latest fall came the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  We received a call that he had been found in pretty rough shape in a motel room 500 miles away from home and was taken to the local hospital for emergency care.  We dropped everything and drove, praying the whole time that we would find him alive when we got there.  By the Grace of God he survived, but it was several hours before we could find appropriate care for him.  We left to drive home at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, having gone more than 30 hours straight without sleep. It was trying, to say the least.

Although I handled the immediate crisis quite well, once home I began to crumble.  I was worried, anxious, exhausted and depressed.  I was completely worn down from living the past several years in constant crisis mode, and sadly, I know some of you can relate.

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Dr. Judith Orloff on the Hay House World Summit.  I felt as if she were speaking directly to me.  She described Empaths as those of us who are more than just empathetic, we actually absorb other's emotions into our bodies.  In short, we are emotional sponges.  We can be among strangers and sense that someone is angry or having a hard time, and that will affect us for the rest of our day.  We can't seem to shake things off the way others can.  This is not a healthy way to live (well, it can be if everyone around you is happy and positive, but seriously, how often does THAT happen?).

So how do we cope with sadness, with pain, with negative energy?  The answer is boundaries.  In my case, it's telling my loved one, "Look, I'm here for you and will support you on your journey to wellness.  But please know, if you continue to make poor choices, you will have to face the consequences alone.  I cannot save you."  Not an easy thing to do when you care for someone deeply, at least not without some degree of guilt.

The best advice comes from the airline industry:  In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first.  Because really, you will be of help to no one if you, yourself, cannot breathe.


  1. It can be such hard advice to follow, but sounds like you've found some good clarity to help navigate the chaos of a loved one and addiction

  2. Shelly, thank you so much for your kind and generous comment.

  3. Dear Beth, If you are anything like me (from your post, we are a lot alike), sharing deeply is as much a part of you as your hair color. It is not something that we chose, it just is. You are right, setting boundaries is a great antidote to empathy overload. Nevertheless, I still have respecting my own boundaries when it comes to some people, for instance, my children or g'children. It's nice to want to "fix" things, but ultimately, we have no control over anyone or anything beyond ourselves.

    In answer to your FB post regarding whether you've over shared: My answer is no. Life is not happy, happy and "zippity do dah." A blog containing nothing but the happy stuff is, in my opinion, not realistic because that is not the way of life. At times, it is sad, messy and overwhelming. For me, I tend to gravitate to a blogger who 'keeps it real." By that I mean, he/she has a healthy balance of the happy and not so much. I definitely don't want to read a blog that is so real that it is depressing. I hope that your loved one realizes what a blessing it is to have you on their side.

    Blessings, Lydia

  4. Oh Beth I feel for you. Addiction is a terrible, terrible, thing and it is heartbreaking to see a loved one going down such a path. I have two brothers who are addicts, so I understand. Thankfully they are both in recovery, but there have been ups and downs along the way. I too am very sensitive to other's emotions and have struggled to find healthy boundaries. I found Melody Beattie's books really helpful, especially "Codependent No More."