Saturday, June 24, 2017

Let's talk a bit about relationships and mental health.

This is going to be a post about relationships between myself and my friends and also mental and emotional health so if your here for the other stuff I post feel free to skip this! I will say quickly that knowing and learning about these things is helpful so it might be worth the read for you anyway.

I have these two friends who I love a lot but have been giving me a hard time lately. I've known both of them for a long time and while I'm upset with them I understand them enough to gauge the situation well I think. So they are both in odd places in their lives and increasingly using me as an escape from their issues with little regard to my own plans and life. I have increasingly less time for my personal projects and everyday life chores because these two friends suddenly need me every day for some off thing or another and I only have so much time before I start school full time and have even less time for my own stuff. I will be leaving out names because some of this is very personal. If either of my friends I am talking about read this I want you to know I love you and I'm just writing to clear my head. I will bring up these things to you personally if they become too much for me but for right now I just need this to gauge where we are and where I am.

We'll start with friend "A" who has just recently graduated from her dream art school and doesn't quite know what she wants to do now. She had been in an on and off "not relationship" with a guy she knows from a previous summer job but just recently decided to stop being hung up on him and move on with her own life. This is very good for her and I'm super proud of her for accepting that he was using her and never really wanted a relationship and choosing her own mental and emotional health over his (which she probably couldn't "fix" and would have made her miserable). I am SO proud of her for this and I am happy that she's sending less time with a group of friends who were quite bad for her health and well being in general.

This leads to a different issue though. I love her very much but I am now the person she goes to with everything and while I desperately want to be there to help her I know, after much hardship of my own, just how far I can stretch my mental health before I'm hurting myself. She doesn't know how much time I spend learning things because art come naturally to her. She has a hard time understanding that I just need time alone sometimes recently. She wants companionship more often than I can give it to her. I hope that I do help her when I can though.I have been tough with her on issues I think are harmful to her but I hope in a way that shows her I'm not going to let her hurt herself or lie to herself about things. She's been given a lot in her life so she has trouble figuring out what things she should be fighting for and what things to let go of and move on from. She's gotten much better about things recently and I think she's really starting to understand the "real world" from her college life. She's also been my close friend long enough to understand when I need to go out and get away and when I need a nice day in watching movies most of the time which I really appreciate. The issues I have with her are actually mostly exasperation because she's very skilled in art and has never had to really try her hardest to get what she wants or needs so she doesn't know how to market herself or push for something now that she's in a world of a bit more competition. I want to see her live her dreams but she gets worried when it doesn't come easily.

Now friend "B" is a very different story. She's recently left a long term abusive relationship that left her with much trauma and two wonderful babies under two years old. There is an entire book I could write on what happened but I'm not going to tell a story that isn't mine. I'm going to start with how proud I am of her for leaving someone who she had loved who had turned abusive. This is not an easy task. Abusive relationships seem like something you should just immediately see and get out of but it is almost NEVER that simple. I'm so happy that things in her life seem to be getting much better and even though her family is not the best place for her to be either it's at least a little bit safer physically for her and her kids. She's been through a LOT in her life and I really hope things just keep getting better for her. Her kids are great and healthy, she has a well enough paying job at the moment, and she has a lot of support from friends and family.

I'm going to address issues we have in our friendship and a few issues friend "B" has. "B" has a lot of issues mentally and emotionally from her life, she's gone to get help before and hopes to do so again soon which is phenomenal and I am so proud of her for this too. These issues are being addressed by her which is extremely important and a huge step for her to take in her own well being. That doesn't mean she's instantly cured or that these issues do not effect her relationships with others. This coupled with my own issues leads us to some interesting fights and talks in our relationship. Recently we've had issues because she doesn't understand my time management and she has trouble with putting herself in other peoples shoes. She's had to look out for herself for quite a while now and this seems to have caused her to become more self centered.

Much of our arguments recently stem from a misunderstanding of my time and how it should be used. I don't have a great job right now and I don't work much per week at it. To "B" this means I have a ton of free time not spent doing anything because her very limited free time is spent on more relaxing indulgent ventures than mine. My "free time" isn't actually free time most days. I spend hours of my day working on art and modeling because it's not only what I like to do but also what I plan on doing for a career. I'm happy to be doing it but it's also very important for my life. The issue arises when I don't have time to give to her that she sees as time I'm not using. An example that comes up quite often is babysitting. She'll assume I'm free and ask me to babysit, I'll tell her no I can't because I have stuff to do, She'll then get upset that I have all of this free time (the time I'm using for household chores or portfolio work) and can't help her out and give her some time away from the kids. I don't mind helping her out once in a while or when a sitter cancels on her last minute but I don't have kids and I don't have the mental and emotional strength to watch them a lot. They are adorable and I love them but they are exhausting and I can't do that right now. I just can't do it. "B" uses manipulation tactics to try and get what she wants or needs, I don't think these are conscious decisions most of the time but survival methods she's had to employ or has just grown up with. While I understand why she uses them that doesn't make them healthy or okay to use. She recently got upset with me because I couldn't make time for her last minute to watch her kids. She wanted to go to a party which I can understand because being a single Mom is super hard and you need to take time for yourself. This being said she values my time so little that she just assumed I had nothing going on and could watch the kids on a few hours notice. I told her no and she got upset siting the promise I made to help her. When I continued to tell her I couldn't and that the notice was too short she resorted to trying to make me feel worse about my life and telling me how I was a bad friend for not rescuing her from her abuser. This wasn't only false because I had tried to help her get out of said relationship many times and had spent a lot of time helping her (I was a stirrup for her when she had her first baby) but was meant to make me feel sorry and do what she wants. I can unfortunately recognize this kind of manipulation from past experiences with others.

I love my friend a lot and I want to help her but I am not a therapist or psychiatrist, I just don't know how to help her. I don't know how to explain this stuff to her. She's not a bad person in any way and when you're in trouble she's always there to try and help but what do you do when they do hurtful harmful things without understanding it? How do you explain to a person what they are doing is hurtful when that has always been justified for them? How do you show someone the good things in their life and tell them to get it together?

This was much longer than I thought it was going to be! I just meant to make a quick post but apparently I needed to write it all out to make sense of it. I apologize if it rambles or is difficult to read! Thanks for reading.