“You can’t want better for someone than they want for themselves.”
“Patient doesn’t care, why would the doctor?”
How often have we heard these statements?
Speaking on a situation where I knew someone who from a particular volatile community and trying to encourage the person to reach higher and failing miserably, I started thinking about relationships, whether friendships, family or romantic, that had the ability to drain a person. In my case, this was the story.
I met the young lady after landing a summer position and as fate would have it, working in a confined space as several weeks turned into months, we talked. Eventually, she had told me her story. Not unlike many from the ‘ghetto’ community of her origin, her mother had failed dismally to provide for her, she hadn’t taken school seriously, coming out with 3 subjects and was invariably presented with the hard ‘knock’ we all know is life. She had gotten herself into the HEART program studying business at the initial level and was in her current role as a trainee.
While this was great, we both knew that position could fall away as easily as it had come and the economic atmosphere (then and now did/do not favor the underqualified). Naturally, our talks encompassed the future and what she would do, as well as the boyfriend in the picture. As I listened about the boyfriend, my heart string would hurt. He had zero qualifications himself, and had thwarted several opportunities she had secured in favors for him to get a job by not turning up or when did, he was consistently tardy and lazy, resulting in his being fired each time within days or weeks. He was content to live on her meager trainee salary that in essence was providing for herself, himself and another family member. To explain the extent of the situation, I made more than she did, working there for the summer.
Now, if you know me, you can imagine how outraged and stressed I became in her defense. She had very low self-esteem and the guy seemed to have only two things going for him. He claimed to love her and apparently had a big dick. Eventually, she explained, that at 22 years old, the boy with nothing to his name and no clear intent to change that, was asking her to have his baby. I told I hoped she told him to go to hell, and she seemed in agreement when she said she had told him no and took the initiative to start the pill. Fine.
In the weeks that followed, we continued to talk about school and she expressed that she wished she could get a degree. I asked her why didn’t pursue it and she said she couldn’t afford it and so never really explored it. I explained to her in blatant honesty that truthfully, neither could I, but I had aspirations that required the sacrifice. I explained to her that most of the people I had met since starting college were struggling, and made epic sacrifices to pursue their degrees.
We began to hatch plans and budgets in which she’d sacrifice here and there to possess enough subjects to qualify for the degree. I even encouraged her to speak with the company’s HR Manager to inform him that she was interested in becoming qualified enough to be put on staff and was taking steps to do so since she had previously expressed she wanted the position and they had informed her she wasn’t qualified. I told her to forget paying for the classes for subjects I could help her with, I would make time to tutor her.
Apparently, she had gone home to share her dreams and plans with the boyfriend, who then informed her that he had plans for the money she had saved and had better things to do with it than school. She began to say she would have to find the money for school another way with tears in her eyes. I was livid. Like so many times before, I asked her what she was doing with that boy. Obviously, he meant her no good.
As I provided an ear, she began to explain the depths that this man’s laziness and greed ran, even going so far as to encourage her sleeping with someone else because they needed the money. Eventually, she pulled me aside and cried saying she had tried to break up with him and he hit her. As was the routine, she would tell me things and I would become angry in her defense, having starting to really care about her. That day we texted all day and when she asked me what I thought she should do, of course, I let her know she needed to kick his ass to the curb.
Long story short, she didn’t and I distanced myself. I had to separate myself from a person and situation that I believed to be more taxing than I would ever be able to tolerate or endure and she had even accused me of abandoning her. She went on to have his baby shortly after, and I distanced myself some more. In truth, I simply was not able to carry on with a friendship where I want better for someone that they wanted for themselves and where you would ask me to help you but you don’t really want my help. The price tag for that friendship was just too high.
You must nurture your own mental and emotional well-being before being willing, able and capable of taking on that of someone else. I found such a friendship would have required me to sacrifice myself so to speak, and I chose not to.