“You’re too good to me.”
“How did I get so lucky?”
“You’re wonderful. What did I do to deserve you.”
“I don’t deserve your kindness.”
Or worse yet:
“I don’t deserve you.”
These sound sort of… sweet, right? I know when phrases like this are said to me, my first response is, “Aww.” I feel warm inside, knowing that someone thinks I am so good to them. However, my second reaction is “How sad.”
I am a busy woman. If I make time for you, you are pretty damn important to me. I see something in you, I gain something from my time with you, and I sure as hell think you’re worth my energy. It is almost insulting sometimes, to have people tell me they’re not worthy of me: my time, my energy, my kindness—whatever it is that I’m giving them in that moment.
In the past year, I’ve found myself in plenty of situations where I give my all to someone, and I’m finally realizing what kind of effect it has on me. Several dear friends of mine are seemingly convinced they don’t deserve my friendship. Or at the very least, the nearly unconditional care and support I give without getting– or expecting to get– much in return.
I sincerely do not fault these people for not putting in the same effort I do in our friendship. I firmly believe that you can’t always be an equal in every relationship you’re a part of: it simply isn’t doable. There are times when you are going to need someone far more than they are going to need you—and that’s okay.
With a few of these friends in particular, I knew I’d be giving more of myself than I’d be getting, and I was okay with that for the most part.
These people were either just having a particularly rough time, or they were dealing with a mental illness of some kind. I’ve certainly been through difficult times, and anyone else who’s experienced a bad day, year, month knows how great it is to have a rock—someone to be there through thick and thin, regardless of how your bad days may cause you to act out.
For this, and many other reasons, I put myself into a situation that I knew would very likely end up being incredibly draining. But as many other sympathetic individuals do, I dove headfirst into the situation anyway.
Personal feelings aside, I’ve learned a very tough lesson from being put into (or perhaps getting myself into) this situation time and time again: some people, no matter how great you think they are, don’t want help. And sometimes, it really isn’t worth your while to keep trying.
I don’t mean to say people aren’t worthy of being helped, quite the contrary: I think everyone deserves someone to reach out to them. The thing people like myself often forget is that—whether intentionally or not—some individuals will just push and push and push you away, no matter what you do.
You can make yourself available at any time of day for them, always lend a listening ear, comfort them, soothe them, be their rock—and they will still keep their distance.
Most times, it’s not on purpose: they are just beyond help from anyone but themselves at that point. Perhaps someone, someday, will come along and be able to break them out of whatever self-destructive mindset is causing such behavior. But what you need to realize after a time is that it’s not going to be you.
There’s only so many times someone can tell you, “I don’t deserve you” before you have to realize that they are right. They are absolutely worthy of love, affection, kindness—but perhaps at that point they are, indeed, not deserving of the everything you give of yourself.
It’s unhealthy. It’s unsatisfying. And it will destroy you both, in some way.
You’ll constantly be wondering why you aren’t good enough, aren’t strong enough, aren’t something enough for them to realize how much they mean to you. They will constantly be weighed down with guilt because no matter how much you do for them, all they can think about is why.
Why you are being so kind to them. Why you are going out of your way for them. Why you are still there for them when they treat you like garbage. After they’ve been nothing but selfish.
Once “I don’t deserve you” stops making you roll your eyes or scoff and, instead, makes everything in you hurt, it’s time to let go. Not a single person, no matter how lovely, is not worthy of you. If they take and take and take from you so much that it starts to wear you down immeasurably—for both of your sakes—move on.
As unfortunate as it is, sometimes the best way to help these people is to leave and let them realize that eventually their incessant distancing and pushing away will lead to a lonely existence. They need to understand that eventually even the most stubborn and kind-hearted people have limits, and that one day they’re going to push someone too far and they won’t—or can’t—come back.
Some people need your unconditional love and support—some people need the absence of it—to truly learn their worth. But you know what? That’s okay, and you’re not a horrible person for feeling this way, because this is good for you too.
For those individuals dealing with crippling anxiety or depression, it is absolutely your job as a friend to be compassionate and understanding—but not to give entirely of yourself. They are going through something incredibly difficult, but it’s not necessary or healthy to put yourself at risk to help these people. Love them, be there for them when they need you—but take care of yourself, too.
No matter how big your heart, how sympathetic your soul, how loving, caring and kind and stubborn you claim to be: you deserve more. Some people will be able to eventually give back to you after you pour your very being into them—others won’t, at least for a very, very long time. And you owe it to yourself to, eventually take something for yourself.
Your heart will thank you, and you will be much happier and healthier and better off if you learn that letting go is as good for you as it is for these kinds of people.