Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Live in Gold Run, CA
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I have been very fortunate to recieve help here & there when I needed it: IMHO you have gone WAY above and beyond what ANY friend- or even relative- could ask from you. It sounds like you are trying to pull water (energy/money) from an empty well (your resources). As much as you care for her, YOU and YOUR children come first.
Ask her to meet with you, tell her you are stretched beyond your limits, hand her a list of local agencies/women's centers/resources that you may have found in the phone book, or by calling a hotline- whatever, and give her a specific time; say one week. Two at the MAX. If you wish, tell her you would be willing to help her out OCCASIONALLY when it's an emergency, but that you need to respect your boundaries, or your family will suffer for it.
If she gets pissy, DON'T take it personally; she's going through a lot and might be in a very self-centered mode. But don't let her guilt trip you. Honestly, she should be thanking you profusely every day, and going out of her way to help. If she's upset and not understanding of your position, just know that you are doing the right thing and stand up for yourself.
Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? I hope so. I used to be an overly empathetic person, like you clearly are. I sacrificed to be a good person and help others- boy, I learned the hard way that unless YOU (or I) defend your healthy boundaries, no one else will, either. Needy people will say to themselves "she will give and keep giving, I need and I will benefit and I will continue asking until she puts up a limit". It's usually unconscious, but not always. Be careful with yourself, and others will be. Be careless with yourself, and others will be.
I recently relearned the lesson; I agreed to dogsit 2 stupid, untrained, hyper dogs that don't listen for 5- yes, FIVE weeks. Insane, right? They tore up my dog run, dug holes, created dust everywhere, barked constantly, shat everywhere. After 2 1/2 weeks of misery and stress, I called and told them that it was too much for me, that they were very destructive etc. and gave them a week to find alternate arrangements. They did, but no "we're so sorry they were such a pain, we really appreciate the 3 weeks you dogsat for FREE, and we'll make it up to you by helping repair/clean up your dog run when we get back". So, what does that say? What would you do?
We all have our own problems, challenges and situations- we don't need to take on other people's as well. Value yourself more- at least as much- as you do others. Period.