My Olive Branch is Broken and I May Not Repair It

I am a pretty nice person. I almost always go out of my way to accommodate other people. In fact, I have done it so many times that I am an expert at saying yes, regardless of the resulting outcome for me. I struggle to say no, and struggle to develop and maintain boundaries. For example,

  • Professionally if I’m asked to work on something, I do. Even if I’ve already put in 60 hours that week, I will give up sleep or even my weekend to get the new additional task completed, because really, why wouldn’t I want to work 70-80 hours a week? And, I will do it perfectly. I will never half-ass something, I will truly do it flawlessly or as close to flawlessly as humanly possible. The odd time I may ask for support at work, but I’ve learned that regardless of where I work, the request will fall on deaf ears. So, I continue to be asked and I continue to say yes. I will probably complain to Mr. MPB, but I can essentially guarantee that it will be completed perfectly and no-one outside of my house will know the implications to my personal well-being.
  • Personally, if a loved one asks for help, I will be there in a flash. If someone is in the hospital, I will go visit to help them pass the time and bring flowers of course. If someone needs a ride somewhere, I will drive out of my way to pick them up and drop them off. Or maybe if someone just wants to meet up for a friendly coffee to say hello, I will rearrange my schedule to make it fit there’s.

You see, I have a problem. I am a people pleaser. I do anything and everything to please other people.

This has resulted in compromising my own health. In the past I have had an ulcer. I have laid awake in the middle of the night having panic attacks. I have stopped taking much need pain medication in order to stay on top of something at work. I have worked through miscarriages, only taking one day off for a D&C surgery. I have hopped on a plane and flown part way across the country because someone is not well.

Once we started down the road of multiple miscarriages, eventually it became too much for me to handle. Something had to give, so I eventually walked away from work. It was hard at first, but today I can honestly say that about 90% of the time I’m really glad I did it. And, I’m really glad I took the risk of unemployment over working in a very unhealthy office. In fact, some days I even feel empowered by my new found ability to stand up for myself.

But here’s the thing, I’m still compromising myself constantly in my personal life.

Most recently, I asked my parents to attend an event with Mr. MPB and I. It was an important event to us. We invited them as our guests and as such would have bought their tickets. We wanted them to share in this event as it is significant to our lives.

They were unable to join us due to travel plans which had them out of the country, which I completely understood. However, as life unfolded their plans changed and they become available. Yet, instead of saying yes to us, they made plans to visit one of my siblings at the exact same time.

It is not often I reach out, but given how important this was to me, I was devastated when I discovered they were available and they did not choose me. Now, I’m not saying that they should visit us at the expense of another sibling, but I am saying that the event we invited them to was a once a year, big deal kind of thing. My sibling would have been there any other day of the year.

Needless to say, and the point of this ramble is that, I’m getting really tired of being disappointed by other people who do not seem to be able to return the favour when I need/want them in my life.

By no means am I saying that I am writing people off entirely for not answering the call when we ask. But, in this moment, I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to stop jumping every time someone asks me, and instead maybe I need to start asking myself if I have the time and energy to do what they are requesting. Maybe it’s time for me to start putting myself first when it comes to people I love (funny thing, just writing that made me feel guilty).

I’m sick of feeling let down. And I’m tired of being hurt by those I love and sacrifice myself for.

I need to find some sort of balance, but does that mean it’s really a good idea to close myself off to those I love? I don’t have the answer right now, but I do know that it’s on my mind a lot these days.

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56 Comments on “My Olive Branch is Broken and I May Not Repair It

  1. Put yourself first and don’t feel bad! I know it is so hard, but it is so worth it. I actually have a post titled “The Year of Me” where I talk about how I did it last year, and how it really didn’t have any sort of negative effect on any of my relationships. My best advice is to do what you want to do. If you want to run to someone’s side when they need it, do it. But if it becomes to stressful, know that it is ok to say “no.” Sending you strength!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience of how putting yourself first did not ruin your relationships! It’s so nice to hear that it worked out so well for you. Thank you so much for the encouragement to start putting myself higher on the list of priorities. 🙂

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  2. I don’t know that you need to necessarily close yourself off, but you do need to take care of yourself first. Instead of saying “yes” right away when people ask you for something. Say, “I need to check my schedule and with Mr. MPB”. That will give you time to figure off it’s something that you truly WANT to do. Yes, there are times that we need to step up whether we want to or not, but most of the time, that’s not the case and you truly do have a choice. As woman and natural nurturers, we often forget to take care of ourselves too. Don’t feel guilty about it! You and Mr. MPB are your first priorities and that’s how it should be right now! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I can relate to this way too much. I keep lowering my expectations but it still affects me (clearly more work to do there). Have you considered telling them how it made you feel when they didn’t choose you? I have tried that approach with our families but unfortunately doesn’t work for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugh…you have every right to feel the way you do. I would have been so hurt and mad at that whole situation. It would make me feel like maybe they really don’t care about what is going on and how important it is. I’m so like you in this aspect: I always want to do everything to make everyone else happy. There has to be a point in life when you realize that you need to do what’s best for YOU, because if you aren’t the best “you” that you can be, then you can’t be the best for others either. (Did that make sense!?!?) You shouldn’t feel guilty about putting yourself first, and taking a step back and considering everything before jumping right in to do everything for others. I hope that others stop disappointing you so much, and that you can find some peace in this situation.

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    • You are so right, if I’m not the be me possible, then I cannot be the best for others either. At some point I need to learn how to put the guilt I feel for doing what right for me to the side so that I can really enjoy just being me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Learning to say no is one of the healthiest skills we can ever learn! I love Brené Brown’s mantra, “Choose discomfort over resentment”. Say it three times to yourself and then say no!

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  6. Oh my goodness, this totally rings true with me. I’m slowly learning that it’s like putting my oxygen mask on first before helping other passengers though… When I’m rested, healthy, and relaxed I have much more to give to others when I choose to. It’s not about closing myself off – in fact it’s kind of opened me up because everyone responds better to a happier me. I’m sorry you were let down so badly. You clearly have awesome caretaking skills and you completely deserve to use them on you 😉 xx

    Like

    • What a wonderful analogy – putting my oxygen mask on first before helping others. I’m sorry you understand my feelings, but I am thankful you are sharing your experience of how much the happier you is making a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

      Like

  7. This resonated with me so much, as I am very much the same way as you. And like you, it ended in me throwing in the towel at work because it felt better for me to just cope at home than to seek the support of others. I too, am a perfectionist, so I understand the fixation on getting things done, perfectly and the right way, even at the expense of your own health. I’m sorry your parents let you down. You must feel very disappointed and hurt by it. Some day, we can chat about my mom and how she does exactly the same thing to me, and how it has made me distant because of it. I agree that maybe the path of discomfort (and sharing your feelings with your parents) might be better than sitting with the resentment. That is, if you think they would be receptive to it. Hugs friend, I’m sorry that you have to deal with another wound when you’ve already got so much going on. I’m sure that this experience with your parents brings up a lot of other deeper feelings (family shit always seems to do that), and I hope that you come out of it stronger.

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    • I am sorry you understand these feelings and emotions so well, it like so many of us have issues with our parents. Maybe we are a bit more sensitive to our parents right now as we are spending so much time contemplating our future families and our own personal parenting styles?
      Anyways, you are right, the new crappy family stuff just bring up more stuff. And it’s the feeling of disappointment and hurt that bothers me so much. I’m really just tired of feeling disappointed by them time and time again. In some ways I sort of feel like I’m ready to just be done with it.

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  8. Ugh. I’m sorry your parents made a shitty selfish decision. I am inclined to over-giving too and the past year has made me have to rethink this behaviour too. Please know I fully support you in putting you and Mr. MPB first. That will become a necessity as you begin parenting anyway. Now is a good time to start exercising your tend-to-your-own-needs muscle. I wish you all the best in navigating this major change and truly hope you can surround yourself with the loved ones who give back as readily as they take what you have to give.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much my friend. I am always so thankful for your support, love and encouragement. Maybe one of these days I’ll get better at exercising my tend-to-my-own-needs muscle in my personal life.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I would have been devastated if my parents had done that. What a mean and unthinking way for them to act. It’s really, really hard to back away when you are used to being there 100% whenever anyone needs you. I have distanced myself from both my brother (a recovering heroin addict with recurring psychosis), and my mother (depression/pyschosis/suicide attempts) over the last few years because I finally decided that in my late 30s it was not my responsibility to look after them any more. It’s been tough, and I feel guilt too, but it’s been better for me. And you know what? They are fine! Well, as fine as they can be. Don’t ever be afraid to put yourself first. I read something really great once in a book about emotional resilience and it said to say to yourself “If it was up to me … ” and then see what you’d really do. If no one else was involved, or mattered. It’s really helped me navigate my own wants amid trying too hard to be the daughter/daughter-in-law/friend/employee that other people want.
    Anyway – sorry to have turned this around to be all about me – what I’m trying to say is putting yourself first is a GREAT thing to do. You can still be kind and helpful, but I think having a better boundary will make you happier and less anxious about what others think. xxx

    Like

    • Thank you so much for telling me all about your situation – I am thankful you shared and I particularly love hearing how everyone is fine even though you now put yourself first. It’s so encouraging and gives me a lot of hope that I can do the same thing. And thank you for sharing that perspective of “it if was up to me….”, it seems like a simple way to try to train my brain to think.

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  10. I’m sorry this happened. I would have been so disappointed as well Sometimes we feel like we aren’t a priority when it comes to DH’s parents, and he’s an only child, so it’s not like they have other kids that need their attention. They just choose vacations and other extended family over us sometimes. He’s used to it, but it’s harder for me because I am and always have been the center of my parents’ world. I don’t think I am spoiled (maybe I am) but I know that I am a top priority to my parents and they will bend over backwards for me. So, it’s hard for to understand how my in-laws can brush us off. Anyway, didn’t mean to rant, but just wanted to say I get how you feel and I understand the need to stop trying to please others. DH and I have decided that, when it comes to his parents, we won’t worry about trying to please them since they don’t always consider us when making their plans. We will do what we want, when we want, and if they want to be a part of it – great, if not – that’s okay too. Sometimes, for me, it’s easier said than done though.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience with your and DH’s family. It’s nice to know we are not the only ones facing these same type of feelings and experiences with our parents.
      I hope that Mr. MPB and I can come to same place of acceptance about my parents as you and DH have about his. It sounds like a really refreshing attitude. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh I can totally see how this could be so hurtful to you especially when this is not something you would have done to someone else. And I also get it that it’s such a hard balance to find in trying to do good for others while preserving your own self as well by not doing things out of guilt. I too struggle with this because I want to do good and live by the golden rule “Do unto others the way you would want to be treated” but sometimes I don’t But mainly it’s because I have let the bitterness of what they did to me or how they hurt me affect how I treat them. So I always try to do a self check. For instance, if I choose to not run to their side when they need someone or do something nice just because of how they treated me in the past, then I know I am acting out of bitterness, etc. And I have learned that’s not good for my owns soul (Everyone is different) But honestly, if I don’t want to do something simply because I just don’t want to or I know it will burn me out, then I don’t. So take care of you….do what is best for you at this time. And let them know how you felt and how important this was to you. I think open communication is always best. xoxoxo

    Like

    • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and approach to this type of stuff. I think you make a really good point about asking myself why I don’t want to do something. Is it because I just don’t to because I’m tired or not interested or too busy? Or is it because I’m annoyed at the person for their past behaviour? I think it’s an important to gauge me response to know if it’s based out of self-care of bitterness. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so sorry. I know how hurtful things like that can be. I deal with it often from my dad’s family, and like you, I’ve reached the point where I’m just not going to do it anymore. It has put a huge wedge between us because they won’t make the effort if I don’t, but in the end, it’s better for me this way. Much less disappointment. Although I still feel guilty, but I’d rather live with a bit of guilt than be hurt by them repeatedly.

    Like

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. Right now I too am definitely leaning towards “I’d rather live with a bit of guilt than be hurt by them repeatedly.” I’m not sure if I’ll have the strength to hold onto that attitude, but in this moment I really wish I could.

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  13. I’m so sorry!! My DH is like you. He will always try to do everything, to please everyone (sometimes that includes me). When people let him down, he doesn’t understand why they are behaving in that way. I’m the opposite. A pessimist at heart! I expect the worse, and am sometimes pleasantly surprised. While this isn’t the best way of dealing with things, it’s up to us to find a good balance.

    It hurts even more when it’s your parents who are letting you down. I’m so sorry!!! I hope you find some comfort! xoxo

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing your understanding of this people-pleaser personality! It’s definitely a trait that can be a good thing and a curse! And you are so right, that we need to try to find a good balance. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. How disappointing and hurtful of your parents. I hope you were able to share how it made you feel. Glad you are getting up strength to say no. Oddly enough- my profession taught me this skill and I am finally carrying it over to my personal life.

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    • I have tried so many times in the past to tell them how these types of things hurt me, and I always feel brushed off and ignored, so now I don’t even bother. For better or worse.
      I’m so thrilled that you are working to carry this skill over into your personal life! Wishing you the best!

      Like

  15. “By no means am I saying that I am writing people off entirely for not answering the call when we ask. But, in this moment, I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to stop jumping every time someone asks me, and instead maybe I need to start asking myself if I have the time and energy to do what they are requesting. Maybe it’s time for me to start putting myself first when it comes to people I love.”

    You said it. You know it’s true. It’s possible to smile while saying no – and if the recipient of the no gets mad, it really is their problem. It’s a tough lesson to learn but it’s an essential life skill. Learn it … practice it … teach it to the precious child who will, one day, be in your care. You want them to know they matter, right? They won’t ever learn that if you don’t live it in your own life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful approach – force myself to learn and practice saying no and putting myself first so that our child can learn this much needed life lesson. Maybe by thinking about this way, I’ll do a much better job of putting myself first.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I can relate! I asked Hubs to be my “no” coach because I just could not handle the transition from yes to no. Now that I’ve built up my “no” muscles I must say its positive AND addicting.

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  17. You most definitely need to put yourself first sometimes. Families are great, but they can be terribly hurtful, especially when it comes to prioritizing the kids/siblings. I relate to this because my parents did something very similar once to me, and honestly, it taught me where I rank on their totem pole. Things have never been the same, which sucks, but they need to think beyond themselves and what they WANT to do. Sometimes, we need to suck it up and do what is right and not necessarily what is our idea of fun. I think our parents generation does not understand this. My friends all struggle with similar things with their folks.

    Have you shared your disappointment with them? I think you should. What they did is shitty.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for reminding me that I am not alone with these types of feelings. I think you are right, so many of us have very similar issues with our parents.
      And yes, I have shared my feelings and disappointment with them time and time again in the past, and I am always left feeling like my emotions are put aside and sweeped under the carpet.

      Like

  18. I am so bad at saying ‘yes’. It is really hard for me to say ‘no’. I am oh so slowly getting better at it, or to be more honest I am getting better at either avoiding the situations where I get asked to do things I don’t want to or figuring out what I am going to be asked in advance and making sure to preempt the request by suggesting another solution or mentioning how run off my feet I am.
    I find it really hard to tell family members when they have upset me. Currently we are building a house and so Hubster and I are living with my parents. We asked my brother and his gf if we could store our sectional lounge in their garage and they agreed. About a month ago we found out that my brother had set up the lounge (not properly) in his garage and was using it as a drinking and smoking den. I cried… it’s a $2000 couch. The only way we afforded it was because someone ordered it then backed out at the last minute so we got it for half price. I freaking love that couch and now it smells like a damn bar. I am so angry and upset with my brother that I basically haven’t spoken to him except a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ since because I just don’t know how to handle it because he is confrontational and I don’t want a fight even though I know he has done the wrong thing. Sigh. Must learn to stand up for myself more when it comes to family. I am actually quite good at standing up for myself in other situations, but rarely with family and friends – damn emotional attachments hahaha.

    Like

    • Oh my, I would have been devastated about the couch too! I suspect you could get it cleaned somehow when you get it back, but clearly that’s not the point and I’m sure it also will not be cheap to do.
      I also completely understand how you are good at standing up for yourself in other situations not related to family and friends. I’m getting so much better at it in other parts of my life too. But when it comes to family and friends, I’m turn into a door mat. But, right now I really do feel like I’m reaching the end of my rope and I hope I’m motivated to change and stand up for myself a bit better.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you. ❤ Hugs! I haven't read all of the comments, but I think it's a tricky balance for everyone to find. I've had to learn to say no and not worry as much about what other people think. It's hard! But, it's also worth it. Taking care of myself mean being a better me in my relationships too. I hope you can find a comfortable balance for you. ❤

    Like

    • You are right, it is a tricky balance, and I clearly need to work a bit harder to balance the scale so that I’m not always at a loss. And, once i learn to put myself first a bit more, I will probably be much happier. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I think this is where infertility has changed me the most. I no longer tolerate people treating me any less than I would treat them. That means there have been rough patches with both my mom and sister. If they are not there enough for me, then I’ll let them know it and I have distanced myself from them. But ultimately all of us have closer relationships with each other now. You really have to take care of YOU and be true to who you are. Which means continue to love, support and help others (without being a detriment to yourself!) and expect no less from those around you. Hugs!

    Like

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience with your mom and sister. I am inspired! You are right, it wont always be easy, but by being honest and respecting my own needs everyone will probably be happier in the end. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  23. I’m naturally a people pleaser too but a few years ago I kind of realised I was burning out. It can be as simple as boundary setting and somewhere along this journey you have to put yourself first. The fact that you only had one day off for your D&C, wow, I cannot imagine functioning at work the next day – that is remarkable.

    It sounds like you were really upset with your folks not coming and, I could be wrong, but it could be that they didn’t even realise how much the night meant to you guys. The phrase “I reached out” says a lot to me about how you’re feeling and because of everything going on for you at the moment maybe you’re unknowingly searching for a different kind of support from them – one that isn’t limited to a night together. (((hugs)))

    Like

    • With hindsight being 20/20, I’m sure I really wasn’t functioning that well at work the very next day!
      Also, I suspect you are very right about reaching out for a different kind of support from my parents. The frustrating thing is that I’ve told them about how hard this has been, and they are still not answering the call. I’m not sure how else to tell them or explain it to them. And honestly, I’m getting to a point of just being tired of constantly trying. I dunno, maybe I’ll feel better about it all in a few weeks?
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and hugs!

      Like

  24. I don’t think it’s about closing yourself off, but about setting boundaries of love and honor. It is wonderful to give back, but oftentimes (especially as women) we go above and beyond doing and being and saying and seeing. And more often than not we are trying desperately to fill others’ cups when ours is (nearly) empty.

    Many of us don’t give to receive. But it is such a blessing to feel love and receive time from someone into whom we’ve breathed compassion and friendship. There is a fine line between those who don’t reciprocate and those who don’t want to. I think perhaps it’s time to start searching for that line and deciding when and where boundaries could be set.

    It’s a way to show self-love, sweetie.
    It truly is.

    With heart,
    Dani

    Like

    • What a beautiful comment Dani. You are right about trying desperately to fill other’s cups when mine is nearly empty. I’ve come to realize that this is not a healthy way to live, and I think you are right that I need to search for that line and decide what the boundaries look like for me.
      Self love is a fairly new concept to me, but I hope I can start to get better at it.

      Liked by 1 person

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