Some of us carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.
We’re the fixers, the helpers, the emotional paramedics who rush to the scene of a broken heart. Sometimes, we forget to heal our own brokenness.
When I first pitched this article idea, I thought I wanted to write a piece with a few bullet points on “how to take care of yourself when other people’s problems become too overwhelming.” You know, putting yourself first. But that’s not what we need. It’s not what I need, and, after all, with every article that I write, I speak to my own soul first.
We need to learn when to walk on.
Our intentions, from the moment we’re born, are pure. The unshakable desire to help others in need is a time-proven reflex, whether for family, friends or a stranger on the street. There is nothing evil about our nature, until we make it so.
But what happens when we can no longer help the ones we love? Can we see when our burden is too heavy to carry?
We make ourselves believe that being selfless is an act of generosity from a big heart. Maybe that’s true.
Where we fail is when we cannot make ourselves believe that walking away is sometimes in the best interest of the only person who matters: ourselves.
From the time I was little, I couldn’t stand to see anyone or anything suffer. To take their sadness was easy as pie; it was like taking their broken heart and giving them mine, whole and beating.
Those acts of misguided martyrdom soothed my refusal to face anything that felt anti-happy, and for years, it worked. I carried the burden of family and friends’ sorrow, packed neatly on my shoulders like used luggage.
Years of this takes a toll.
One day, you get into a fight with a loved one, and their whole life flashes in front of your eyes, and you wonder, “Where am I in this?” And you realize that you were never there, because there was no space on those shoulders to carry the burden that you feel for yourself.
And that whole and beating heart has now been replaced tenfold, and the only ticker that remains is taped to pieces, and they’re not even your pieces to feel.
Hang in there with me. There is a silver lining to this massacre of a story, and it’s a piece of wisdom to share as much as a reminder for myself.
Walk away from being the misguided martyr, the fixer, the helper, the heavy carrier with a duct-taped heart. There is no destination to our journey like this. There is no amount of help that we can give if, in return, we give ourselves.
On my wall stands, in a weak and fading Sharpie, a quote: “Love is beautiful, but it is never simply enough.”
From the moment we’re born, our intentions are pure. But I think they’re pure because we ourselves are. Our hearts beat for the world because they beat for us first, and somewhere along the way, as we grow and fail, we give that heart away like a trading card in the schoolyard.
There is something divine in leaving behind the burden you were never meant to carry, even if you’ve led yourself to believe that it’s for a good cause. Family, friends, and the rest in between will find a way, hopefully one that lies within them. You are not defined by their successes, and you sure as hell are not defined by the way you get them out of failures.
I won’t lie. It’s a bittersweet pang that rips you a new one as you walk away when you’ve led yourself to believe that you need to stay. Only, you don’t. You were never meant to save the world, love.
Only feel it within.
Author: Aleksandra Slijepcevic
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Image: Pierre Marcel/Flickr