Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Helping someone else, the cost

An old friend visited with me yesterday. Hadn't seen him in over a year. He's doing fine, he says. Just the normal chit chat between a coupla guys. A joke or two, some stuff about his job and grouchy boss, his car getting fixed and a new love in his life with a woman he met through another acquaintance. Normal and very low key, almost boring but reason to enjoy his visit. Only two years ago he was on the edge and in serious danger of committing suicide. I spent a great deal of time with him to help in any way I could to prevent that from happening. Days without sleep, late night calls and trips to the counselor or psychologist, hours of simply listening and watching the pain he was carrying. I'm thinking it worked, he's not dead and is getting on with life. I am happy and thankful for him and his family. I am also happy and thankful for myself but for other reasons. After such a long time of intense concentration on him and keeping him alive certain parts of me are totally exhausted still, even after a year. I am pleased I could help, I have no regrets. But the situation took a toll on my life too. All of my energy was spent on his problem and search for his solutions for a long, long time. I neglected family, friends, profession and self to make time to be there for him. An excellent outcome to be sure but I have had to work hard ever since to get back to a reasonable order in my personal life. Truthfully it seems just as hard as watching over him. It reminds me of another thing we do in life as we age. Raising children requires 24 hour responsibility. Then they (are supposed to) go out on their own independently. When they do develop a life of their own we are plunged into the empty nest thing. Some of us really excel in the freedom. Some of us are lost. I assure you I have not become lost in my freedom from his problems. I'm having fun and planning and preparing for my bike trip around Lake Michigan and doing what we feel is normal. I am also still working hard at remembering just how to do anything for myself though without first thinking how it will affect him. It's sometimes a bit strange, an exhilarating but almost guilty feeling for not having some sort of serious problem of my own. Strange indeed almost like I wish him the best and he's still my friend but don't want him to visit too much.

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