One of my dear friends has Chrohns (not sure how to spell it) which requires a lot of her energy. To explain how limited her energy supplies are sometimes, “Atta” used an example of spoons.
Imagine you have 10 spoons a day.
You use 2 spoons getting up and getting dressed, 6 spoons going to work and only have 2 left…so you decline going out after work which would “cost” 4 spoons and you go home, cook dinner (2 spoons) and go to bed.
That really resounded with me.
I think mental illness requires quite a few spoons to deal with, too.
I’m in a bad way just lately with Mom flying home and my Dad’s urn looming in that arrival. It’s really shaken me up. Friends on social media who don’t understand are saying things like “You’ll be fine” “stop stressing” “Don’t worry” and it’s upsetting me and making me defensive…so I wrote a post saying I had no spoons left and was coming off Facebook to try to recover. I wrote that I had nothing left to give so I wasn’t able to message or call to see how anyone was and I didn’t have it in me to respond to anyone who needed to be cared for or encouraged…I am running on empty. I felt it was important to highlight that in case my friends thought I was being rude by not responding to their messages.
Praise God, a lot of friends understood. They sent me private messages of love and support which was really lovely.
The other day, my friend “Victor” messaged me. It was a cartoon picture of about 30 spoons.
Touched, I messaged back “Thank you so much, that’s so sweet”.
Victor messaged something like “I’m sorry you’re feeling so rough”
This required a polite response.
So I messaged back “Thank you. It’s been tough knowing I’ll have to face my Dad’s death head on when I still feel so raw about it. It’s incredibly painful so all my energy is on surviving my Mom’s return 💔 I can’t respond to anyone or anything right now and I’m sorry about that”
That’s a clear message, right?
It took a lot for me to write and repeat my plea on Facebook so 4 spoons were ‘spent’ in that message to Victor.
Victor messaged back “I know how you feel, I lost my Grandfather last year, too”
Dude. I can’t comfort you in your pain. We’ve just gone over this, haven’t we? What are you doing?!?
But being a good person and a kind friend is important to me, so I take a deep breath. Taking out 20 spoons (!!!) I respond saying “I’m so very sad for your loss, Victor. I know it must be so hard on you. I’m praying healing and peace for you. I’m exhausted so I’m off to bed. See you! Xx”
I’ve had to comfort a hurting friend which was precisely why I came off Facebook – because I wasn’t able to cope with situations like this without it having a horrible effect on me and making my personal suffering so much worse.
Now, I’m upset, angry and feeling resentful that Victor sent me spoons but is now taking them back at an alarming rate.
I told Vic I was going to bed – so that should be the end and I can change my focus to getting through the next few days with my family.
“I’m hurting a lot over my Grandparents. I miss them so much” pops up the next message.
Really, Vic? Really?!?
What did I just say to you?
Handing over 8 more spoons, I message “Yeah, that’s got to be really tough. Please try to be gentle with yourself”
Please stop messaging me, I’m literally shaking with the effort this conversation is taking.
“I’m so worried I’m going to forget what they look like”
At this message from Victor, a tear falls down my cheek. I’m sooo empty but he keeps requesting more from me.
When will this end?
“Hold their memories close to your heart and treasure the photos you have of your Grandparents, Vic” 12 spoons gone “You won’t forget them because you obviously care deeply about them” another 8 spoons, now.
FFS Victor. Please leave me be.
Victor sends a photo of his Grandparents.
12 more spoons as I message “What a beautiful picture, Victor. They look like wonderful people. I’ve really got to go now though. Big hug xx”
Victor doesn’t understand or respect my boundaries so he breaches them 4 more times with messages about the pain he’s in, 2 links to songs that make him cry and 3 messages asking if I’d listened to his links and what did I think of his songs.
Why, Victor?!? Why?!?
80 spoons later and I’ve responded with kindness to each of his messages, listened to 2 awful, emotionally draining songs (omg) and am now contemplating suicide so that NO ONE can EVER ask anything from me again.
Finally Victor is satisfied.
I was so anxious and wound up from giving sooo much to put him at ease that I wasn’t able to sleep and have been exhausted and teary all day today.
I need to mute my FB messenger app before it kills me.