Updated: Oct 31, 2022
By BLACKCHICKWHITEACCENT (BCWA)
Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning five or six plates at once. (If you've never heard of that trick, or seen it, Google it. It was very popular in the mid 20th century.) The problem is, most, if not all the plates I'm trying to keep spinning, aren't mine to try to keep spinning. They're mostly other people's plates. If one should stop spinning, fall, and break, it shouldn't matter to me. But I feel like it does.
I feel like I've been tasked with trying to help people do stuff they need to do for themselves. To help them keep spinning their own plates. When they feel they can no longer handle their problems, they tend to hand them over to me to fix. I can't seem to say no. So that's yet another plate for me to spin.
And believe me, I'm spinning plenty of plates. I'm already responsible for the care of one adult family member. This person is disabled, but they are mobile. She's sweet, generous, and does what she can. She has a grown kid, and grandkids, but she can't live with them, and she can't live alone. So, we share a house.
We're blessed that we can keep up with the bills. And I'm grateful that I can help her, because together, that's how we survive. I make sure she's safe. I help her spin her plates because if I don't, we both suffer. So, I do the work she can't. We have to continue to keep a roof over our heads. We've still got to eat.
(As an aside, I didn't plan on my life being this way, but stuff happens. Sometimes, we never know why we end up in certain situations. But if this is the fate I'm tasked to live with, I'll continue to do my best.) -----
Fortunately, I don't have to fight this battle completely alone. We have a family member who will loan us money in a heartbeat. That is important, and significant, and I am forever grateful to them. In return, I definitely help them spin their plates. The problem is, this person has issues that they could, and should, handle themselves. It's not a money issue for them, like it would be for me. I think that's why they lack the motivation, and as a result, their indecision ends up costing them a lot more money than it should have. It's frustrating, and baffling. But I know that in the end, there's not much I can do about it. -----
Again, I never thought I'd be spinning so many plates for others. I have a neighbor who I've become pretty good friends with. She has no kids, and no living family members. She is disabled but does pretty well for herself. We go grocery shopping together. We go to local concerts together. We watch PBS mysteries on Saturdays. She's a good cook, and during the summer, on weekends, we eat barbecue, drink beer, and listen to music. She's great company, and we have a good time.
My neighbor owns her house. Unfortunately, there will come a day when she may lose her house. I've scoured the internet, looking for a way to help her avoid that. However, I can't do anything without the proper paperwork. Every time I gently remind her of this, she gets angry, and frustrated. She, like the family member I live with, gets a lost look in her eyes. They can't seem to remember where they put their important documents, and I have to basically harass them just to get them to look for them. It's upsetting for them, and I end up backing off, even though we both know that the more they delay, the more difficult their problems become to solve.
Theoretically, I understand this is a natural reaction. Some problems are so big, and so overwhelming, there doesn't seem to be an easy way out. But emotionally, I feel like you have to try. You have to keep trying, no matter what. So, I keep trying for her, and my family. I never stop trying. But it is wearing me out.
Some of you may think, if they don't care, why the hell should I? I ask myself that, every day. But when it comes to family, I will never give up on them. I will always be ride or die with them, even if it means I don't have much of a life for myself. And believe me, they have come to rely on that. See, I was always seen as the "smart" one. I have a couple of degrees, (that I'm currently not using) and I'm used to doing research and filling out forms. I'm expected to do the legwork, and if I don't deliver, things can go sideways really fast. I know i shouldn't accept all the blame, but I do. It's a crazy, codependent existence, and not exactly healthy. But such is my life.
So, again, why worry about it? Why keep trying to keep the plates spinning for other people? I guess that's just what I do. It helps keep my mind preoccupied. It gives me a sense of purpose. I know I can't keep everybody's plates spinning forever. Some will inevitably fall, and break, and there's nothing I can do about it. But at least I gave it my best shot.
Thankfully, my family will still manage to land on our feet. There's a lot of us, and unless you're a terrible person, you will never be homeless, or hungry. My neighbor, on the other hand, isn't as lucky. But I do my best for her. I still go above and beyond. And even if my advice, which I admit, isn't always wanted, or even asked for, isn't worth their time, they can't say I never tried to help. ---- An addendum: Funny how when you step back and put the onus on the individual asking for help, they do tend to step it up. Tired of waiting for my family member and neighbor to get their paperwork together to receive a TABOR refund, * I told them I was done. I had my check. If neither of them wanted free money, it was all on them. To my surprise, it worked! I had both of their paperwork by the end of the day.
So that day I accepted that since I can't make anyone do what they don't want to do, even if inaction may hurt them, it's best to just step back, and let them realize I'm doing them a favor, not the other way around. I'm not a martyr. I do the best that I can, but my tolerance for inaction can only go so far. That still doesn't mean I don't feel for others. I'll keep trying. I'll just keep the plates that I choose spinning. That's as much as I can handle.
*Important footnote: If you're on Social Security, or receiving SSDI, you still qualify for the TABOR refund. You just need to file state taxes now, so that you can get your money by January. Free tax filing organizations, such as Another Life Foundation, can help with that. So, give them a call, and get yo money! :)