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This Is Who I Am

Recently, while chatting with a couple of friends I realized that as much as I talk about making changes, not putting myself in positions of vulnerability, situations where I can be hurt, not giving until it hurts, allowing myself to be taken for granted or taken advantage of, this is who I am.

I'm an open book. I'm not good at lying, I'm not particularly good at 'editing' myself. I feel that omitting things is the same as lying or deceiving people, so I tend to be blatantly honest about myself, who I am, how I feel. I'm a worrier, a giver, a nuturer... I feel the need to 'take care of' others, perhaps because that is the role I was raised to play... at the age of 8 I was taken to my Grandparents' house in the Summer to stay with my Grandfather while my Grandmother was in the hospital recovering from hip surgery. When she came home, I was there to help her clean her wound and dress it, get dressed, etc. I was the oldest female grandchild, so it was my role.

At 9 I was made to sleep over at my Grandparents house and spend weekends while my Grandmother worked, because my Grandfather was sick and had been disabled as long as I could remember. I looked after him, until he was hospitalized and later passed away on my 10th Birthday.

After my parents divorced I was responsible for preparing all the family meals, doing all the outdoor maintenance year round, laundry, housework and watching my younger sister, making sure she got to and from school and had homework done, etc. When my mother became ill with recurring ulcer problems, I cared for her, administering medications, cooking special meals, etc.

When my mother kicked me out of the house, I took two of my friends with me and we shared an apartment. One of those friends would later live with me two more times over the years. When my father was diagnosed with cancer I sat with him while my stepmother ran errands, etc. and when my Grandmother was moved to a personal care home, I was put in charge of her finances, getting her to doctor appointments, etc.

Though he didn't always live with us, my husband and I raised our Godson from the time he was 4. I potty trained him, babysat him 12-15 hours a day. When he went off to college we supplied him with bedding, food, supplies he needed for his dorm room, etc. to make sure he would be comfortable and today we are still supporting him by making sure he has transportation to and from the grocery store, banks, department stores, and has what he needs. My husband has gotten him the only two jobs he's had here at home.

Twice I've taken responsibility for my adult younger sister, providing her with transportation, furniture, food, meals, getting her a job, etc.

I have been groomed all my life to be the care giver, to be responsible, to have a sense of duty and service. My psychologist described me as a 'rescuer' type personality, someone who was taught to 'fix' things, used to 'manage' and 'provide care' for people and situations others didn't want to or couldn't handle.

My sense of value and self worth is tied to what I can do to help other people. I tend to go way out of my way to try to make sure others are taken care of, with little to no regard for myself or my own mental or emotional well-being.

I know all of this... I can step back and see it for what it is, identify it... I know this is who I am, but I also know that it is terribly unhealthy, because I am an extremely sensitive person and while I don't expect anything in return for the care and attention I pay to others, I can be easily hurt by careless commentary and actions.

I know that I set myself up to feel taken advantage of, taken for granted, because I openly and willingly give to others, care about them, try to support and help them when I can... when they make careless comments, say hurtful things, when their actions denote a lack of appreciation for the sacrifices that are made to help them, I am wounded beyond belief.

I've been working on this aspect of who I am for a long time now and I've more or less come to the conclusion, in just the last few days, that I'm a hopeless case when it comes to this subject. I can no more change this aspect of my personality than I can change the size of my feet. This is who I am.

My self-esteem is tied into my ability to help others, to 'rescue' them in some way. The value I have as a person, is so interwoven with helping other people that I feel worthless if I can't provide some sort of assistance to the people around me who are suffering or struggling.

I keep telling myself I'm going to pull back, going to 'disconnect' from some of the more needy people in my life and for a time, I do limit contact or communication, but at the first sight of struggle or difficulty, "there I come to save the day!" All the old tapes start to play, the reinforcements of duty and responsibility kick in and I'm in over my head again, trying to be everything and everyone to someone who then feels suffocated or treated as if they aren't capable, they become resentful that I'm helping.

People tell me I need to change... I have to protect and care for myself more and let others fail and fall, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't make more sense, be easier, to embrace who I am, that this is me, this is my identity and work more on not taking things so personally, letting the emotional aspect get the better of me?

It's a very complicated and complex place to be... something I'm always contemplating, trying to understand.
rollingwithhusky rollingwithhusky 46-50, F 1 Response Aug 24, 2010

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I just made a video on being an individual, reminded me of your story...<br />
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Z3qrFerCo