repetitiv. vis-musafir, același de ani finalul niciodată aflat
rigid. omul care s-a legănat în obsesie până și-a luat o bardă și-un șmirghel și-a plecat să cutreiere lumea, căutător de contrarii pe care să le transforme în oglinzi
linear. trecutul pe care-l știu pe de rost, troițele sub ale căror acoperișuri putrezite îmi caut loc de tras sufletul când viața nu mai ține cu mine
pasiune. pusă pe pauză, contactul fizic necenzurat cu un alt om e luxul separator între extaz și nebunie
natural. tot ce am luat vreodată de-a gata. umbra copacilor, privilegiu moștenit de azi pe mâine de dinainte să cunoască timpul
interzis. tot ce-am avut odată în podul palmei, amalgam de stări concret-cubice, niciodată perplexe femeia care obișnuiam să fiu râde de pe marginea lunii “mă voi întoarce”, îmi șoptește liniștitor înainte să se crape iarăși pânzele cerului de ziuă
Caring about people is, by far, the strongest thing that comes to my mind when I think about what makes people human. If I’d be asked what makes us human, in the way that most people understand this term, I’d definitely say that it is the ability of caring for others, for their well-being.
Somehow, things are not that simple, as there are at least two types of people in the world: the caregivers and the caretakers. Of course, things have more shades than these two, but for now they’re the only shades we need.
As a caregiver, I can tell that I’m also an empath, and that I love to share. I love helping people, sharing information, resources, time, everything that I feel that could be helpful for them. But there are also our buddies, the caretakers. They’re usually two types, as well: those who are vulnerable and need to be taken care of, while they get through the difficult times they have to face. And there are the pretenders, the ones who don’t really need your help or resources, but they want your constant attention.
And there comes the big challenge, not solely in identifying correctly who is the person worth investing into, but also taking care of yourself in the process as well. As a caregiver, I can state for sure two things: caregivers need to receive some care as well, and that having boundaries won’t make you less human.
Of course, being a selfless person might seem like a wonderful thing, but be careful, as emotional burnout is more than just a tale. The magic word that helps you prevent that from happening is boundaries. You have to get some, if you don’t want to lose yourself in the process.
Because helping others is a thing that, as pretty as it seems, takes a lot from you, because, it needs to create a bond strong enough to let you actually help them. Every person one helps is taking a piece from their soul. This is why we should learn to choose our people wisely.
In my journey of emotional recovery, I’ve discovered a lot about a multitude of things, but especially about my patterns as a caregiver. I’ve discovered that I tend to let myself get drained by letting anyone to take from me whatever they need, how much they need. I’ve also noticed that I don’t tend to ask for support as often as I’m offering mine. And, even if everything I’ve stated here sounds just pretty and cute, the truth is that it is the way I’ve been toxic for myself. By constantly denying myself the support I was needing.
And this is how things went till…well, till I got my cup empty, to say so. And you cannot pour from an empty cup, right? That was the moment when it became clear that I have to change my way of doing things, so I’ve chosen the easiest path: I’ve isolated myself for a while.
I’ve obviously felt really bad about it, and the guilt tripping was nothing I’d like to remember. But, as the tale goes, I had no other choice left. I was already at a point where I reached numbness, and I was feeling like I have nothing left to give to other people, no matter how close we were at the time. So I’ve started to reevaluate my relationships with the people around me. I was surprised to finally observe how many people were coming my way only when they needed something, and how many people were only looking for attention and some spotlights, not real help. It amazed me, but it has also convinced me that I’ve made the right choice.
Because, even if there are caregivers and caretakers into this world, the reality is that there’s nothing fixed. You can always switch places, as life is not linear. Becoming a caretaker, as a native caregiver, feels initially wrong on so many levels that you can’t even count them. But there are times in one’s life when becoming a caretaker is a necessary measure. And you have to accept and respect them, with everything they’re bringing to the table.
So did I. I took a deep breath, and reached for support. This is how I’ve found out that there are people out there which are doing this the ping-pong way: I’ll help you now, you’ll help me later. That there are people that I can learn from now, and I will repay them when they will need, the way they need to be supported.
That no is not a bad word, but it is, for sure, a word making a huge difference in one’s life. Like the difference between an empty cup, and a cup filled up and ready to pour some into other’s cups, as well. Like the difference between a good day, spent at peace with myself, and a day filled up with others’ drama.
And the thing that I believe is the hardest to learn when you’re a caregiver: that a refusal won’t transform you into a monster. No, you’re not becoming Hitler if you choose to take control over the people with whom you’ll share your resources with. Actually, this will only benefit the people which really need what you have to offer, as well as your mental health.
And, no. Asking for help won’t make you a weak person, as most of the people that try to take advantage of you will try to say. It just proves that you’re mature enough to understand that no one can do all by themselves. There are times when you’ll need help, and asking for it is the best proof that you understand that being human comes with limitations as well.
It doesn’t mean that you try to avoid anything if you’ll refuse to help whenever you’ll be asked to. It only means that you’re aware of the fact that no one can save every person they met along the road, so you only pick the battles which you feel like are yours.
Of course, receiving help is a beautiful thing, and we tend, once we get used to a certain person constantly helping us, to put more and more pressure on them. We’re only humans, after all, even if this means that our helper will, eventually, step back and take care of himself as well. Being mature and being grateful for the help we’ve received means also the understanding of this fact, that our caregiver is only a human, not a hybrid of Mother Theresa and Superman.
At the end of the day, being a caregiver means that you will take some time on your own, at least from time to time. Because caring begins with the person looking at us from the other side of the mirror, everyday. Only like that we will be able to offer real, authentic, valuable help to the people we care about. By taking time of our own, to explore freely the inner and outer world, to discover new things, to learn. Even if that could mean, at a certain point, some broken ties. Even if it will feel uncomfortable and it will hurt, that’s also part of life. Ironically, it is the part that marks the beginning of the growth process, so embrace it and stay curious. There are so many things to come, things that you would’ve never even tried to think about, just stay brave, patient, awake and curious. No bad period will last forever, only the lessons brought by it.
We live, as mom once said, interesting times. In today’s fast and furious world, one can do with less sleep, but not with less social-media. We talk with our loved ones, read, share photos, music, thoughts with others, and, when we put things this way, social media seems to be an inoffensive, happy place. But this is also the problem.
As going through my own recovery journey, I’ve became fully aware of something that I used to know only as a theory: social media is doing more harm than good in the process.
This happens because no one on social media is really honest. We share the bits that we love from our lives, the highlights, and this is how the fraud begins. We are creating a perfect image for the others, but, in exchange, we tend to forget that they’re doing the same thing. We tend to forget that, for some people, social media is a career, what they do for a living.
And that’s how the harm is done. By comparing our raw, unfiltered real life, with the fake, perfect lives of the social media people. We look up to them, take them as standards, and then we’ll look back at ours and see the huge differences between them.
This is how any progress gets lost in the long run, just because we tend to forget the essential: there are no two recovery journeys alike. Every single one is unique, intimate and special. Share yours if you feel like it, but don’t take other people’s perfect social media lives as goal or comparison terms.
Because, if there’s something worth saying about it, then would be the fact that social media is a very, very powerful tool. It connects different people, different stories, different images form all over the world, in no time. This can make or break any kind of mental progress a person’s trying to achieve, being the main reason why social media should be used wisely.
I don’t say that being active on social media is bad. Actually, I spend a lot of time online. But, as I’ve started this rather uncalled for mental health journey, as old scars have opened again in front of me, hurting, I became more aware of the social media influence on me.
Social media, with all the perfect photographs, fueled my body insecurities. I know, it sounds childish, but being overexposed to so many images of perfect bodies constantly has only made me feel worse about mine. Even if, in the back of my mind, I was totally understanding that some of those perfect bodies are the byproducts of a whole team, usually consisting in fitness trainer, dietician, make-up artist, hairstylist, photographer, and the almighty Photoshop.
Even so, I couldn’t help, but ask myself Why am I not looking like that, or even close, at least? and fantasizing about how my life would be better if I’d be prettier- the social media kind of prettier. That was my revelation moment, when I’ve started to unfollow the accounts that were making me feel bad with the way I look.
And that was also the point where I’ve decided that it’d be a good move to unfollow all the accounts that I recognize having harmful potential. It might not be the easiest decision, but it was one of the best taken on this: to unfollow, unfriend and block every single one that made me feel less than enough.
Because, one of the social media’s wonders is that, even though you’re surrounded by content all the time, you choose what kind of content will surround you. And understanding this was a total game-changer. My feed started to look different: more young artists, more mental-health-supportive, more visual (and in a very, very good way, as I’ve discovered a whole world of photographers and illustrators hidden by all those IG models), and, generally, much more uplifting.
Of course, social media connected me with people that helped me become the individual I am today, awesome people I couldn’t see myself without, but I’ve also met people that, by having contact with them or simply seeing their posts, were awakening my, so-thought, long time burried unworthiness feelings. But, at the end of the day, when I’ve acknowledged for real what it means that my mental health an well-being are at stake, I’ve managed to understand things at a deeper level. To take them more serious.
By continuously looking for answers, as my mental state was worse, I found some, not only about body image, on my relationship with social media. I’ve discovered that social media has a serious impact. More than I’ve thought before it could have. It brought up strange, yet common mix between addiction, exhaustion and not feeling good enough.
It is easy, when you’re a perfectionist nature, to mix all these things up. You want to get that perfection that seems so achievable in the online.
Because, if you’d ask me, I’d say that is the biggest problem with social media: that it makes perfection look ordinary. It makes you believe that having the perfect job, perfect body, perfect relationship, perfect outfit, perfect house or vacation is not only something that everyone could reach, but that it is so common, that you must do something wrong somewhere if your life ain’t perfect.
And this could be seriously draining for one’s emotions and psychic, even if that individual faces a mental condition or not. It could, if used carelessly, make the individual develop some sort of condition, in time. This is why we have to change the approach. To post relevant content for who we are, regardless if it is matching the trend or not, and be careful about what messages we receive from the accounts that we decide to follow. Also, there is this little thing that, kept in mind, will certainly do the difference.
The truth is, again, that nothing will ever be perfect. Not in the real, daily life. Here everything has ups, downs and stopping points. We have normal bodies, each of them special and beautiful in its very own way, and lives that can be just as pretty as we allow them to be.
Because, if you get out of the social media thing for a second, you’ll see that the world is still a pretty place, and life is still beautiful. That there are people who genuinely love you and care about you, even if they don’t tag you everywhere, spend every free minute of their lives with you or shower you with gifts. That your followers are not a way to measure your worth as a human. And, generally, that there is life outside the social media, too, and we have to live that.
We have to live it unapologetically, without any kind of filters. To stop trying to please everybody, to speak more of our minds, to share our feelings and thoughts more. Because a life doesn’t have to be picture-perfect to be worth enjoying it.
Actually, what we see on social media is not a life. Is a collage made of cut-outs. A big painting made of the tiny detalis that used to be the highlights of every day, week, month, year, but arranged in such a way that they’d eventually fit. Everyone out there is building a social narrative of their lives, based on the moments that made them feel and look good.
Even if they don’t put it on display, people still have bad days, periods when everything seems to be wrong. And it’s ok to be like this, as long as the bad times are part of what it means to be human.
Of course, talking on social media about the struggles of existence is a wonderful trend, that I really hope it would last a lifetime. But, in the meantime, things tend to remain the same as they were when, talking to a friend about what made me write this articles series I’ve told her that I do it because I have nothing to lose anymore. If I’d have the smallest thought that I could lose something, that I would be judged, or that my loved ones or the people whose opinions matter to me would look at me differently, I wouldn’t write a line.
But I have nothing left to lose anymore, so I keep writing, hoping that these pieces of text help. Live the life your own way, and, when you’ll have your next scroll, keep always in mind that what you see on social media and what you get in real life can be two really, really different things. No one has it all, and for sure not all the time, but getting guilt trips over not being able to reach social media’s ideals of living is not a thing we should let happen any sooner.
Scroll down wisely, and keep in mind that the reality happens always offline, what we get on social media are just some beautifully crafted postcards from it.