June 15, 2015 by phicks2012
It’s a funny thing, but being seen as “reliable”, or “helpful”, or “compassionate” or as a “problem solver” really ought to be a “good thing” — and it usually is. It means that people can count on you when the chips are down, and that you keep your word, and follow through on obligations, and show up when you say you will.
Unfortunately, it also tends to mean that whenever anyone in your circle of friends and acquaintances needs anything — assistance with a project, a favor, a ride somewhere, help with a chore, or whatever — you tend to be the first person they call.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s flattering in a great many ways, and usually we’re fine with it, but there are times in everyone’s life when they need a break from being “reliable” and “responsible”. It’s nice to have a solid rep for being a good and trustworthy sort of person, but when you have that sort of reputation it sometimes seems that other people simply don’t expect you, ever, EVER, to need time off.
They don’t anticipate that you might have something of your own to do, or that you might be ill, or injured, or just flat worn out, and even if you let it be known that you’re sick, or hurt, or exhausted and planning to take a few “me” days to recuperate, they will STILL call and ask you to do things for them, because they’re just so bloody used to being able to do so. Habit — and you’re probably first on their speed-dial, right?
I recently pulled a back (okay, BUTT) muscle and aggravated the injury by working almost every day for several weeks thereafter readying rental units for new tenants. To complicate that, I also picked up some sort of persistent stomach bug, and I really, REALLY needed to take some time off to heal up and to get to feeling better. That didn’t happen because every day — every SINGLE day — there was something I HAD to do, or was ASKED to do, and because I couldn’t seem to say “No”.
I had to go to the rental units when my helper(s) were available, and that meant doing the work on their schedule rather than my own. It also meant going whether or not I felt up to painting, scrubbing, mopping, patching, or mowing. I had SCA obligations, too — meetings and events to attend, errands to run, and projects to complete, when all I really felt like doing was curling up in a comfy chair under a soft woobie — maybe with a heating pad or an ice pack and a cup of hot herbal tea. Possibly, alcohol might also be involved.
Since neither of my housemates have reliable (i.e. either “working” or “existent”) transportation, I also had to take them grocery shopping, or to fill prescriptions, or to pick up necessities, because otherwise they really had no other way to accomplish those things. They needed me.
But I finally put the word out — all but advertised it publicly on a flashing electronic billboard — that I intended to take a few days for myself and WOULD NOT be leaving The Castle (or my comfy chair if I could help it) under any circumstances short of a national emergency for 24 hours MINIMUM. Would you believe that I STILL had requests that would have forced me to do exactly that, and people pointing out things that were not actually my responsibility that I “needed to do”. Go figure!
To my credit — or maybe not — maybe it was a dormant selfishness gene kicking in — I actually said “No”. I believe a few people probably experienced at least mild shock, and I think I detected maybe a bit of irritation there too, but I finally stuck to my guns and took one day off for myself. It wasn’t enough, but you know what they say about “baby steps”.
I still had at least one more trip to make to the Rental units prior to the end of May, I had an SCA event to help plan and organize and prepare for before late June, and I still needed to run errands with or without my housemates, but it marked the beginning of a new determination to overcome the single known disadvantage to “reliability”.
Just as advised with drugs, you can “Just Say No”. You can overcome an addiction to being unfailingly helpful, and your friends, family, and acquaintance can overcome their addiction to being unfailingly helped by you.
The universe will not tilt upon it’s hypothetical axis, I swear, and I have it on very good authority that the world won’t end!