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Questions about helping others
September 11, 2009
11:11 am
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Shonda
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What Marypoppins post to ScaredinMichigan in the rape thread has had me thinking about helping others.

marypoppins
8-Sep-09

I think if your friend were posting about her situation, it would be a different story.

What is the point of discussing what has happened to a third party? We don't know all the details.

And isn't recovery about NOT taking on the problems of others and focusing on ourselves?

It seems that your friend needs to take care of herself.

Mary

Is that wrong to want to help others? I would want to help a friend if she were raped. Let's say that what Mich posted was the complete truth. That she wasn't posting about her friend who is herself. She's been here a while, on a site that discusses codependency in depth. (I don't know her whole story, but it's not really pertininet to what I am thinking of now). I want to know if this site discourages helping others as a feature of being too "codependent". Or that helping others is not good while in "recovery". Life is going to go on, isn't it? People we love will continue to have problems just like we do, because they're human.

When does human compassion for another person's pain become a disease? When does helping others become taking on there problems? Is it ok here to talk about how to support a friend (third party) and not get blasted for wanting to?

I appreciate any and all input. Thanks. 🙂

September 11, 2009
1:10 pm
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atalose
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Shonda,

I know for me I needed to learn what HEALTHY HELP was because the enmeshed love and support I was offering my friends and family really wasn’t any help to them at all.

I would think that many people on here would discourage UNHEALTHY HELP while you are discovering your codependency issues and learning healthy ways to approach life, friends and family.

When a codependent says they want to help a friend, what WE really are saying is, WE want to fix, repair, mend, assume their burdens for them and solve all of their problems and all in the name of love, care and concern…………….UN-HEALTHY HELP.

Maybe if you could share an example of some help you could offer a friend, lets say your phone rings and it’s X your good friend who proceeds to tell you that she just found out her husband has been cheating on her…………..and your response is……????

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

September 11, 2009
1:39 pm
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It No Longer Matters
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I will give a real life example. I have a friend. We have been friends since 1991. She was recently divorced when we met. She had moved back home after her divorce. She ended up living with my then husband and me. She eventually met and married her husband. My husband and I got a divorce. She was not supportive of me and we drifted apart. She felt I should have stayed in the marriage. (maybe/maybe not)

She had her only child 3 years ago. Her husband has been a complete jackass ever since she told him she was pregnant. He has escalated his drinking. He is verbally abusive and recently bent her finger back. She was telling me everything he had done recently. I asked her several questions:

1. Are you documenting all of this? Yes.

2. Are you copying everything for Sam (her cousin is an attorney)? Yes.

3. Will you let me know when you have had enough? Yes.

She asked me if I was going to be her star witness. I said no. I haven't been around a lot and I haven't seen it happen, BUT I will be there to support you when you are ready.

It isn't my problem. I cannot solve it for her.

SECOND EXAMPLE:

My daughter Cat is in sixth grade. There is nothing meaner on earth than a Middle School Girl. She has a friend M that she has been friends with since Kindergarten. The mother and I eventually have become friends. The mother is an older mother and is overly involved in her children's lives. I made the mistake of making plans with the mother to take our two daughters to the first middle school dance together. That is not what Cat wanted to do. M is being very "catty and bitchy" to my Cat. Cat is pulling away from the friendship and M is hanging on. Cat wants me to call Miss Z and talk to her about the way her daughter is treating Cat. I have refused. Cat needs to find her own voice and fight her own battle. I cannot nor will I fight this battle for her. I have armed her with some things to say. "M, you are being mean right now and you are hurting my feelings. Please stop" "M, if you are going to sit at the lunch table and read your book, why don't you sit on the other side of me so I can talk to everyone else".

Yesterday the mother, Miss Z called me to find out if I was upset about something. I finally broke down and told her. "First I want you to know that you and I are fine and this does not effect our friendship, but there is some bickering going on between the girls." I gave her examples of what Cat had come home and told me had happened. Then I reiterated that it was their issue not ours. They will probably fight and get over it and if you and I get involved, we will hold on to our hard feelings.

All that being said, don't hurt my Baby Cat 'cause Mama Cat will come out fighting. But I really think Baby Cat needs to take care of this herself. If it were a teacher or another adult or someone in authority I would take action. This is between two 12 year olds. Not my battle.

Do you see the difference now between helping someone who really needs your help and getting overly involved in their issues? I could easily sit back and tell my friend in the bad marriage. "I told you not to marry him in the first place." Because I did. But I am not going to say it.

Bitsy

September 11, 2009
3:40 pm
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Shonda
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Thanks your for your responses, Atalose and Bitsy.

I don't think it's unhealthy or codependent to want to reach out to a friend who was raped, or needed to take the steps to know if she was raped. I think that's human. I guess what might be unheathy is if you thought you alone could help the friend overcome the horrible trauma of the experience and get angry and frustrated when you couldn't. I wonder if guarding too tightly against being codep is no unlike the behaviour of the addict, in becoming "all about me."

Bitsy, you are right. "I told you not to marry him in the first place". That's kind of like beating a dead horse, does nothing toward helping the friend that is in a tough situation right now. It also seems like something the codependent would say "I told you so" "if you had listened to ME" So you did not start that cycle with her. Yay, Bitsy!!!

Atalose, I understand what you are saying about offering the wrong kind of help. My baby brother drinks and I have to guard against helping him stay in his addiction. That's really hard sometimes. But if he were assaulted and beaten, and called me for help, then I would do everything I could to get him the help he needs. Or if he needed a ride home from the hospital, I would give him one. I just wouldn't stop at the liquor store for him on the way home.

What if my brother needed a ride to check himself in to rehab? What do you ladies ?? think of something like that? Warning! This is ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL!!!!!!! I doubt my lil brother will ever check himself in.

Thanks for talking about this to me. You guys are fantastic.

September 11, 2009
3:52 pm
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Shonda, what I truly think is that next to ADD codependency is the most overdiagnosed thing out there. Not all behaviours are Codie. I had not read or responded to that thread but I knew when I opened it that Mich was talking about herself.

As you are here longer you will "recognize" people and their behaviours. Quite frankly Mary Poppins and Destiny are like oil and water. If either one of them said the sky was blue the other would swear and be damn it was green.

Bitsy

September 11, 2009
4:17 pm
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sdesigns
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Ha ha Bitsy, I thought the same thing so didn't respond. It ends up being some kind of blow out no matter what the topic is.

Hi Shonda: Hypothetically of course, I think if my alcohol abusing brother asked for a ride to rehab because HE sincerely wanted help to recover, I'd give him a ride. If he was doing ti to somehow please or manipulate others and wasn't sincere about it, I'd say no.

sd

September 11, 2009
4:44 pm
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marypoppins
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So much for good reading comprehension.

I was the first one to post to Mitch's thread. Something about it just seemed "off" to me. I thought it was asking for speculation on something without really understanding the circumstances. Something very private for another person. That was my "third party" concern. To turn it into advocating turning your back on a friend is RIDICULOUS!! I said no such thing. I questioned using this forum to speculate on a third party situation.

I've had a lot of years of therapy and meetings and work on my issues.

As for Destiny, if you read the first line of her post, she said she agreed with me.

Anyway, carry on with your whatever.

Mary

September 11, 2009
5:06 pm
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marypoppins
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and as long as we're quoting each other, here's a quote from the SC posted on Mitch's thread:

site coordinator
11-Sep-09

Hi Everyone,

I only want to remind that this site is about helping ourselves, not others. The intentions of this site are not to directly help or fix others.

If you incidentally help others through posting about YOURSELF, that is the true intention and hope of this site.

Speak bravely, honestly, and assertively about ourselves. I hope that everyone's purpose for being here.

Peace, SC

September 11, 2009
5:09 pm
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Hi Mary. How's it going? I didn't read the whole thing. Just enough to get the gist of it.

Now you do have to admit that you and Destiny are not the best of friends;)

You sometimes piss me off and then in the very next post I think you are wonderful.

Scared has her own issues to deal with and I quite frankly was so wrapped up in my own that I lost track of what all was going on with her. I imagine for any of us it would be hard to come on here and say I got so drunk last Saturday night that I can't remember what happened. I have also been with someone when they had the same amount to drink that I did but they didn't know that a medicine they were taking would interact with the alcohol. They were falling down drunk and "blacked out" and I was fine.

Life is life such as it is.

Mary? Having a middle schooler yourself don't you think I am wise to let Cat fight this battle on her own?

Bitsy

September 11, 2009
5:12 pm
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sdesigns
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Mary: Not to be disrespectful, but you and Destiny have a long history of following each other around and posting and taking stabs at each other. I'm not going to take sides, its just that I've seen it enough that I choose to stay away from it. Sometimes I agree with each of you, you both have lots to offer as far as advice but the intereaction between you two is something that I try to stay out of the crossfire.

September 11, 2009
5:14 pm
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Shonda
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Mary,

I truly apologize if I made you angry, but what you posted brought up questions I have asked myself before. You speak so authoritatively, so knowledgeably, it doesn't surprise me that you have had years of work on yourself.

As for good reading comprehension, I comprehend what is written pretty well. It's the unwritten that's tough for me. You did not say, "ScaredinMichigan, I think this really happened to you" or "this seems off". You told her her friend needed to take care of herself. That's what I was going by. Without the background you ladies have, I can't assume intention or motivation. All I have is the printed word.

I guess if I had known all the background here, I might have gone ahead and asked ScaredinMichigan if she was posting about herself. But having been raped myself, I know that it's easier to talk about that kind of shame, degradation, as if it happened to someone else. I did it. It was a way of testing the waters - who was listening, who was receptive. I wish her the best and pray for healing for her.

To me, it seems if I even offer advice, like on this site, then I am succumbing to the third party syndorme thingy, because it takes the focus of me and my recovery. This codependency and recovery theory gets kind of complicated.

September 11, 2009
6:10 pm
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Shonda, for what it's worth. I don't think you were having a codie moment. You were having a compassionate moment as someone who had been there. I have never been raped therefore I can't know what it is like. You have and you do. Don't lose that part of yourself to recovery.

Sometimes the recovery becomes the disease.

Bitsy

September 11, 2009
6:20 pm
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andii
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The way I understand it, codependency involves helping others at the EXPENSE of helping ourselves, taking care of others at the EXPENSE of taking care of ourselves.

If not behaving in a codependent manner meant worrying exclusively about our own problems and not reaching out to or responding to others, then support groups would be non-existent.

We'd be all alone in our struggles because when we cried out, nobody would answer.

ya know?

September 11, 2009
6:35 pm
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Andii, hi. I was hoping you would find your way over to this thread. I answered you on the other one. I want you to feel welcome and know that you can share.

I cannot begin to tell you what this site has done for me. There were some people on here who told me like it was and I didn't like it. Guess what? I found out the hard way they were right!!!!

Bitsy

September 11, 2009
6:38 pm
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atalose
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Shonda,

Yes of course I would help a friend if she came to me and told me she was raped. I would help her as best as I would be equipped to.

If I had a sibling who was serious about wanting help for themselves with an addiction and needed a ride to rehab, yes I would drive them.

I think andii summed it up pretty well when she said:

{{The way I understand it, codependency involves helping others at the EXPENSE of helping ourselves, taking care of others at the EXPENSE of taking care of ourselves}}

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

September 11, 2009
6:54 pm
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andii
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Bitsy I really appreciate your posting to me. Too bad this place is not filled with people like you.

Share, um, I don't think so. But thank you.

I have been learning a great deal by watching and posting to others.

September 11, 2009
6:57 pm
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andii
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And Bitsy, that thing called Destiny is not "saying it how it is." She is purposely stabbing Mich with razor sharp knives while Mich is down. I can see it no other way.

September 11, 2009
7:55 pm
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marypoppins
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regardless of what has happened between Destiny and me in the past, it did not happen on Mitch's thread, and it hasn't happened in a while

however, feel free to perpetuate it and gossip about it

September 12, 2009
12:22 am
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Yawn

Bitsy

September 12, 2009
12:59 am
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soofoo
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Shonda,
I think the theory, if I am understanding it correctly, behind posting (or talking) only about yourself in group therapy, and on these boards is a good one.

The idea is that when we respond to someone's problem, we are really responding to our own problems. We just often don't know it, because the human psyche is complicated and tricky like that. So by choosing to only talk about yourself, you are bringing the unconscious problems you have to the surface. You are pushing yourself to deal directly instead of indirectly with the issues that come up.

It helps you to act more consciously.

September 12, 2009
2:19 pm
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I'm gonna do something crazy and actually stay on topic..lol..

Shonda..i have been dealing with that delicate question myself lately..how do you walk that fine line between being a good friend and being there for someone..and becoming fully entrenched in their drama. I have two friends who are going thru this love-hate tug-o-war lately and I've been trying to be there for one of them, #1 because we are closer than i am with the other and #2 she really doesn't have anyone else to talk to about it. But while trying to be a "good friend" and listen to her vent etc..it's dragged me headfirst into their drama and affected me all week.

I know my friend needs my support..but I can't keep up at this pace. I love her dearly and don't want to lose her from my life, but i need to set some boundaries when it comes to certain things. If she is gonna continue in this abusive, toxic relationship, I don't think I can be a part of it anymore. Because it just ends up being a vicious cycle of which i am trying to free myself from those kind of relationships. I am being her enabler to be in the relationship...because no matter how bad it is..she can come to me about it.

I struggle mightily with the difference between being selfish and taking care of oneself. But i am trying to look for healthier people in my life and those friends who are..will get those times when I need to take care of ME. But its a daily battle. Glad to hear i am not going thru it alone and would love to hear any input.

Now nitpicking may commence...

September 12, 2009
5:42 pm
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Shonda
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OopsaDaisy,

Lol, ya imagine that!! staying on topic!!!! Ya, when I find myself worrying too much about anothr person's problem, I try, (TRY) to back up and take stock of myself.

Soofoo, I like your explanation about the psyche. what we tell ourselves we are doing, in order to keep pushing it back. Saying that we are doing it to help others, we should apply that to ourselves. Ya.

MaryPoppins thanks for quoting the SC. I'm still thinking hard about that post.

September 14, 2009
11:38 am
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OopsaDaisy,

I'm still working on not getting too involved with other's situations. It's a work in progress.

I'm trying to listen more and ask open questions that I've seen asked in these posts. I'm also working on not giving my two cents and if asked, not be offended if they do the complete opposite.

One thing that has happened recently is that through a disagreement with a friend, I've thought a lot more about what I want out of friendships. I asked my friend point blank why she doesn't initiate phone calls with me. It didn't feel good anymore to do all of the calling. It was a gift that she listened to what I had to say and actually has initiated contact.

I want to continue focusing on what feels good to me. I've decided that I want friends that are willing to reciprocate and that doing all of the work isn't in the game plan.

Thanks for bringing this topic up.

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