Abandonment; Caretakers Burnout

Boris Levenzon sent me a question this last week: “I wonder if you care to talk about dealing with abandonment, friends, spouses, etc. I guess it touches on caretakers burnout as well. And how you said that anger and resentment are toxic, but how do you deal with not hating or resting the ones that left you in your life?”

Boris, this is a great question, and I appreciate you sending me this to give you a written response. This may sound crass and harsh, but I treat these people as people who have died. Resenting the dead is hurtful, so I just let them go and view them as if they are non existent anymore. In a way, the friendship or relationship has died. Through death, we can find closure; while the person may still be living, they may never contact us again and may never recognize their wrongdoing. Forgiving, letting go, and not concerning myself with anything that involves them anymore. I unfollow them on social media and block them if needed.

Yes, people have hurt me; many people use their anger towards me because of their caretaker’s burnout as an excuse to abuse and hurt me, and it is toxic; it destroys relationships. People who go into caretakers burn out and do not get the appropriate help will, in turn, bring a relationship to a close through their own toxic stubbornness.

People who do this lose out on the unique strength, care, and understanding we have to offer. Illness has a refining effect. It helps us to change our perspective on life and brings us to a place of learning where we see the isolation of disease and how we can be there for ourselves. It increases our capacity for coping.

If people do not want to stay in our lives, there is nothing we can do to make them. Interactions are based on free will, and if someone no longer wants to interact with us, they will not. There is nothing we can do or say to change how people feel about things. Humans are cruel, mean, and selfish, and through illness, I found that people do not want to help shoulder the burden of what someone is carrying, but many times, they want me to support them in their hardships because I am strong. If people can not be there for me, I will not offer my support; support is a two-way street. I am tired of one-way streets where I care, I am there for them, and when I am down and need someone, I am blown off. Why hold onto a one-sided relationship at all? Why hold onto people who treat you like convenience? I have met some genuinely caring individuals who are also chronically ill because they understand the hurt and isolation that come along with it. 

I wanted closure myself; I wanted to be able to hear why they treated me poorly. People in my life are still treating me poorly, projecting their anger on me, and continuing to hurt me. Lying to me, they will get the help they need and truly not doing what they promised they would do. I will never get the answers I seek. People are too absorbed in themselves and their pain and too busy to see through their shit to help someone else or be there for someone else; it comes down to people being unequipped in coping. People do not admit their faults and weaknesses and thus project their toxicity onto others. They are blaming a chronically ill person because they are too egotistical to admit their wrongdoing.

I am at a point in my life where I do not put myself in a situation to be there for someone if they are not capable of being there for me. I am not wasting my precious energy on trial arguments and others’ inability to control their anger. It takes an unkind and hateful person to project their anger onto someone who has been isolated. Blaming the sick person when the fault of the abusive person is seeded in their ego. Their stubbornness and their inability to want to change or heal.

In every relationship, there must be a give and take. There has to be an understanding, and there has to be respect; a mutually beneficial thing happens in relationships when one person comes to the other person expressing hurt; the other person takes accountability for it and works to change. People who apologize and continue the same behavior are abusive and do not want to change. If there is no give and take, the relationship becomes one-sided and fruitless.

People fall into caretaker burnout because they stop caring for themselves; they stop giving a shit about the things they love and want to do. Through doing this, they resent the chronically ill person blaming them for what is happening instead of being an adult, taking responsibility for their choices, and putting their lives on hold. Lack of balance in anything causes distress. People who are burnt-out caretakers focus on trying to care for someone but do not care for themselves; if you can not take care of yourself, you can not take care of someone else, and you will become abusive.

A problem in today’s world is people want other people to fix their problems or accommodate their toxic behavior. If people do not want to heal themselves and want others to fix them, this creates a vacuum where people expect others to clean up their messes. We aren’t children; we are adults who clean up after themselves. The same thing goes for our emotional state and the way we behave. Throwing temper tantrums and being unkind to people to get your way is childish behavior. Please pick up your britches like a big person and do what you must to learn to cope with life like the rest of us. Your mental state is your responsibility, no matter who you are, and learning to be a better human should be what we all strive for. Lifting each other up and encouraging each other is far kinder than trying to squish the life out of one another.

I have had a lot of time to myself and a lot of time to think and reflect and deconstruct my thoughts. I guess that is why I have been able to take things I believe and contextualize them into something like writing. Isolation has been a blessing for me to be able to write. While it has been a while, I do my best to write when I can. There is much we can share with the world on how to cope and live life, for example, if we are given the opportunity. Our insight is different from the health privileged for a reason.

Published by aricubangbang

Artist and writer. Living with chronic illness and writing about it. I have survived two cancers, I live with hyperadrenergic postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, ehlers-danlos syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, jaundice, esophagus dysmotility, Chilblains, Raynaud's, migraines, asthma, and more. I have mental health problems which I am not ashamed of, I have CPTSD, anxiety, and depression. My medical history is extensive, but I will continue moving forward. I have hope to help others not feel isolated alone, and forgotten by an ableist society.

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