Wednesday, May 18, 2011

self-pity

There is something I've been pondering quite a bit lately, and that is the validity of self-pity. I think it must be rather obvious to most of humanity that allowing ourselves to drown in a mire of self-pity is not a good thing.

But recognising the challenges in our lives and forgiving ourselves for imperfect reactions... that seems not only valid to me, but essential for dealing with the imperfect reactions, aka getting over it. After all, when we try to deny our failings we only fail more, right?

Now, if you read this blog very regularly, you know that the last few months have not been the easiest of my life. I haven't shared many details, but I've complained plenty. I have expressed some degree of self-pity here, and I have mulled over my imperfect reactions.

One of my imperfect reactions has been an inability to listen to others, and engage meaningfully in their lives. I've felt like it takes all my energy to get from day to day, and while I want to care for others and be a giving person, lately I have felt like I consistently fall short in this area. While I recognise my desire to improve, I also have been forgiving of myself, accepting that this is a challenging phase. This, too, shall pass.

During the last few weeks, though, I've heard from a few good friends of mine about bad times they are going through. Just like I won't betray too many details of my own circumstances here, I also think it best not to share any details of their challenges, anonymity or not. But believe me, they are dealing with some hefty pain. Things in the realm of war and abandonment and suffering. Things that make my imperfect reactions to difficult circumstances feel much less justified.

My friends need a friend, and if I can be a friend to them, I should. But I feel like I have so little to give! I have been forgiving myself my inability to invest in others, and when I spent time with friends I feel like this is a season when I need them to patient with me, hoping and praying that soon the tides will reverse. But how do I deal with the fact that there are people who are dear to me, who right now need me to invest in them and be patient with them? Where am I supposed to find those emotional reserves?

12 comments:

Brian Miller said...

honestly, you dont have to do much...i am sure they appreciate you being there...

tinuviel said...

I don't know your particular spiritual beliefs, Kati, but it has helped me to pray, "Lord, I can't love them like they need right now. Love them through me? Your love never fails. You say I can do all things through You who give me strength. I need that love and strength now." Sometimes I keep doing that all the way through the interaction, a three-way conversation.

That said, it is ok to say no to some social interactions if a yes means not stewarding my own health and resources well (reasonable sleep, nutrition, exercise, quiet if that recharges you). No one else can assess that for you.

May God guide you by green pastures and waters of rest.

Old Ollie said...

The world is a bully...you ask a lot of questions that we all ask.

I hope for another world, hope I'm not naive.

Anna said...

I've been pondering what to share. I agree with what tinuviel says above-- ask above for help, for words, patience... and by listening it shows you love them and care. For me, I find these emotional reserves on my knees, asking for help from above; this has been where I've found the reserves to help those when I've felt like I had nothing to offer or was depleted myself.

If you are a person of faith, don't be afraid to boldly ask for a miracle... it's when we are depleted and in great need that miracles occur! What is a miracle, after all?! Your friends are dealing with grave, serious things. I've found that even for people who don't believe in God, that if I say "I'll pray for you", they readily accept and welcome that. There are times & seasons when we can pray-- but not do much else in the way of practical help.
Bless you.

Joybird said...

Kati we are on the same wavelength with the self pity thing. I've been thinking about how serious my blog has become, a sweet spot for me to process but so much in the last 3 months has been simply painful. I get tired of being and sharing raw. But then I have to step back into God's embrace and trust that this is a season, a phase that has purpose for Him and for me and try to accept rather than resist. (although I am planning some silly infusions soon.) I agree with tinuviel, right now when I need to be there for someone I start out by asking the Holy Spirit to tie my supply line into His bottomless well of love. Give me words if I need to speak and spend more time listening. Actually I think that could be a great gift for me right now and for my friends in need. When I feel less able in my own strength to give I am a better listener. I don't think my friends are really coming to me for answers as much as they want to be heard, loved and maybe prayed for. Like Brian said, just being there. Perhaps that's what your friends need most from you as well. I hope this challenging phase ends soon for you. Sleep well (or have a great day actually...time difference>)

LauraX said...

Sweet, sweet Kati, I understand so well this feeling of being tapped out and simultaneously desiring to help the ones I love...and you are right, we need to see our failings, forgive ourselves our imperfections, and somehow trust that the strength and compassion inside of us us big enough to nourish and replenish ourselves as well as the people we love. This is hard, it is very, very hard...and yet it is what we must do. I have found that practicing lovingkindness meditation every day (whether I am feeling loving, kind and compassionate or not) has helped me tremendously. I won't say it erases my personal suffering or anxieties around not being ___________enough (fill in the blank...good enough, kind enough, strong enough, energized enough, compassionate enough, smart enough, loving enough, giving enough and on and on)...and yet somehow...if I can be in touch with a single moment and remember in "this moment," "this breath"...I can feel safe, I can feel happy, I can feel strong, I can feel ease....and I don't have to worry about 10 minutes from now...just now. And I can offer blessings to others to feel the same ways...just for a moment, one at a time...this is a comfort and it energizes me enough to "get to" the next moment. I don't know if this is helpful, I hope so.

You are a dear, dear person...and of course you are not perfect, none of us are...and we All suffer...sometimes the suffering of others appears much, much greater than our own, this is true...and yet, what ever we are experiencing in the moment...this is also true, it is just as real and in our experience it hurts.

gentle steps dear one

Lisa notes... said...

I think you're already off to a good start. Just recognizing that they have pain and caring about that is a blessing in itself.

I'd suggest work within whatever medium comes most naturally to you so that you don't add extra stress to your own life. If it's e-mail, send one periodically. Or a text. Or a phone call. Definitely pray, but occasionally let THEM know also that you're praying so they can feel the horizontal love as well as the vertical love.

Blessings to you! I'm with you in this one too. It's tough to give when you feel depleted yourself.

David N. said...

I have noticed you are very guarded in what you share. That is perfectly fine, but I find it curious. I am so used to soul-baring in my writing. Do you find it uncomfortable to read others doing that?

happygirl said...

Oh Kati, we could be sisters. Of course, I'd be your much older sister. You struggle with an age old question. Your heart is so tender. Your eyes are so open. Have you ever discovered your personality type? Maybe you are gifted in another area and need to come to terms with this. I am an introvert. It is hard for me to connect emotionally, but it is easy for me to organize and help, if asked. It just never occurs to me to ask. Blah blah, anyway. Maybe you need to discover your gifts and work with your strengths. I don't know... I could be all wrong on this.

emily wierenga said...

i love how you dig deep into matters of the heart, kati. how you care so much. it's beautiful.

Mrs. M. said...

Do you think that you have to do a great deal?

Must of the time, a prayer...a shoulder to cry on...arms that embrace is all that is needed.

Allow Him to guide you completely,

Mrs. M.

Bristol said...

hmm, OTHER care is important and powerful and transformative. SELF care is important and powerful and transformative. I think it reflects so much maturity and self-awareness that you realize the place where you're at, the place where you want to be, and where your boundaries are being challenged. ...Just wanted to commend your clarity and honesty.

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