Some of us are horribly loyal. We defend the people we care about even against their own vices. We are blind to their faults to a fault. We don’t realize that we are taking on unpleasantness upon ourselves even while it is none of our business.
Eventually we leave ourselves sapped of energy and with a bad taste in the mouth. We find ourselves constantly going beyond what is expected of us, and sometimes the other person unabashedly leaves us out in the cold. People become self-absorbed, neurotic-psychotic, and obsessed with gaining the attention of those people whom they cannot have. We realize this too late, but once we do, it is important to not hang around and recognize what could be a fast-evolving co-dependent relationship.
Two things that I have discovered to be of utmost help are-
a) Personal boundaries- I was friends with somebody whom I have, for my personal use, diagnosed with borderline personality (NOT claiming to be an expert or professional in related field). She has all the signs, symptoms, and childhood stories to go with. I have sympathies for her, and really hope that before she ventures into the next stage of adulthood, seeks for professional help and spiritual guidance. She often posits herself as the victim in situations, and disassociates herself from the bad choices that she has made. Granted, that sometimes all of us can goof-up. We do really stupid things, and have the good fortune of having our best friends around to help us get about the situation. But when it is simply a historical trail of messes that the person simply refuses to learn from, that’s when you have got to identify the red flags.
I won’t go deeper into the situation with the friend; however, it was a period of time that led me into a bit of imbalance. I completely take responsibility for letting myself be led on by her value-judgments of other people. I personally went and apologized to people whom I believe I had hurt during the course of my association with her. Some of them were broad-minded enough to empathize and accept my apology without slight. However, I had to make my decision about breaking ties with her on a whim. It took me all of two minutes when I saw all of the previous situations flash in front of my eyes, coupled with the circumstances in hand. I knew that this was not the person that I am (and I am a firm believer of being the company one keeps- more about that in another post) , and it was out of my hands to help her at this point. I realized that I would simply be discerning in making such a choice, and not judgmental as I had feared. The difference lay in the matter that it was not a one-off situ, but a habitual offence. I couldn’t offer to help her because there was no way she would accept it from me; in fact, she had just dismissed me as pretend know-it-all before I knew that I could not let it carry on. Here is a Christian quotation that removed all doubt from my mind that I must focus on regaining my own emotional balance, and not feel obliged toward helping her; it greatly help me set my personal boundary-
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
b) Prioritize- Think long-term. Then think short-term. Then think long-term again. It’s like crossing the road. You have got to look at the situation on either side. Are you going to save money on the chain-lock just so you could grab a quick snack on your way out, and risk having your mountain bicycle stolen- one that you broke bank to have the privilege of owning?
Similarly, do you have to put yourself in the line-of-fire fighting other people’s not-so-large, personal battles simply because you have convinced yourself that you are out to bring home some justice? For instance, taking sides over a trivial matter that nobody is going to care about in five years, but everybody will definitely use as an example for undignified, stubborn behavior demonstrated by you. Instead, give your opinion only when asked for. And if the consequences of the issues are not fatal or contagious. Like maybe a murder on the street? You have definitely gotta be worried about that! A friend got led on by another friend and got heart-broken over it? Help both sides feel better, but do not go all-out unless you are specifically asked by both sides to help resolve the issue. Even then, insist on your preference to stay out of the matter, instead of aggressively stating personal opinions about how the sexes must treat one another in all types of social situations. You are going to eye-rolls in return; no gratitude here preacher!