Rescue the Rescuer!

A jumper about to jump
Rescue the Rescuer!

After being a compulsive rescuer all of my life, and now having no one to rescue constantly or even monthly, what do I do?????

Rescuing is in my blood!

Being raised by a former nursing student; being the oldest girl of four kids (the youngest being 12 years younger than me); and having nurses coming out of the woodwork of my mother’s family tree (grandmother, mother, sister, cousin, niece, and grand niece); I am a natural born rescuer!

On call nurse, available and free

An example: Even on my off days from work (as well as after I retired from nursing) I wanted to be helpful. When someone posted on Facebook that they had a cold or some medical problem, I readily gave advice. When I had a bad cold and some dear friends gave me the advice I had been giving others: get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, take Vitamin C, cold medicines, etc., I realized I was giving advice when it wasn’t even asked for. The people I had given advice to were adults, who had been through these common ailments and knew what to do. But I wanted to be helpful.

I want to add here that I did not feel insulted by any means, when my friends and family offered me advice. Actually it made me feel loved and that people really cared about me. But that said, not everyone wants people giving them advice.

Here lies part of the problem

I was helping when no one had asked for it and without considering whether they needed or wanted advice or support. (I have really gotten better about this.) I was helping partly, at least, because I wanted to feel like I was helping others.

Rescuer in the making

I spent most of my adult life (37 years) being a bedside nurse, 8 years of that was spent helping my husband get through school to get his doctorate. Two years after graduation I had our son. I spent much of my time after that helping him grow and experience life. Also I emotionally supported my husband through some trying times all the while still being a bedside nursing. I spent little time taking care of or recognizing my own needs!

Later our adult son moved out, my husband had a stroke, but my husband, after several months of care and rehabilitation returned to work. In short I took care of him physically and emotionally during these times too. Most of my time was dedicated to my husband’s needs. I failed to see that I had been under stress and had my own needs. If you look up rescuer in the dictionary, it will say: “See Elaine.”

My new life began

In 2009 my husband passed away after declining health. My biological son and I were close during the reverberations from my husband’s emotional and physical changes before his death due to poorly controlled diabetes. We went through a lot!

My son is about to marry a wonderful lady. It is time for me to let them go on their path together (Interpreted: he doesn’t really need me any more.) My adopted adult son and his wife have been married for over 12 years, just had a baby and are doing great.

The stress finally caught up to me

A little over a year after my husband passed away, I developed sciatica and I couldn’t work in the hospital setting without potentially worsening my condition. So I applied for other positions and for whatever reasons {my age(?), history of back problems or other restrictions} I was never hired. So I retired at 60.

My new life

I started a small photography business for a few years and though it wasn’t a big money maker, I had some great experiences. Last year I downsized my home to a two bedroom condo and simplified my life. I have hobbies, friends, volunteer, a great family and two cats. I write blogs and Google everything that I am curious about. I am a loving, giving, non-judgmental Christian with a close relationship to God. I have pretty much everything I need. My life is wonderful!

So what is my problem?

I am not depressed or sad (how could I be with everything going so well?) But I kept feeling like I should be doing more! Is this empty nest syndrome? “Rescuerism”? Maybe, but not so much.

My motivation

In my head my self worth is based on what I can do to make the world a better place. (Cough, cough, “rescuerism??”) I feel like I am doing what I can by helping those around in small ways. I advocate kindness to people, as well as animals and nature. I try to make my life matter by doing these things. But giving my life importance is not my main reason for these behaviors, love is. (Still a rescuer? No, just a lover of people and life!)

Not habit

Well, there could be several drivers behind my behavior. Of course the obvious is habit. I am used to having someone need me to do something for them or help care for someone. I get that. I am coping with that feeling. So not the real problem.

Proving myself?

I wonder if I am trying to prove to others that I am a worthy friend or human being? I think my family and friends already have this figured out by now!! So I do not need to prove my worth by helping others.

So why do I feel like I should be doing more?

(A symptom of a rescuer or just love for people??)  Well, I think all of this pondering is part of getting older and realizing that given the physical restrictions I have from my back and other factors, I do not have to rescue the world any more! I do not have to prove my worth. I worked hard all of my adult life. It is time for me to start taking care of me. NO, I am not being selfish or self centered! I am learning to love me!

I have a good life

I have so many wonderful experiences, so much joy and love to give, why shouldn’t I share them when appropriate? There is nothing wrong with that! There have been many changes in my life over the last 10 years. Part of aging is gaining and recognizing wisdom. To gain serenity to change the things that need changing and accept the things I can’t change and learn “wisdom to know the difference.” (Remember the Prayer of Serenity??)

Mystery solved

I am me! I am a helper, comforter, lover,”cheer giver,” story teller, hugger and lover of life. I will help when I feel led to do so, (instead of just compulsively jumping in). (A rescuer? Well maybe a little but a rehabilitated one.)  I will be the me I was made to be.

I know I can not rescue the world. But I can make a positive difference where I am. Hmm. Maybe I am really a people lover with delusions of youth. I really feel better now that I figured this all out.

For others like myself

The serenity and peace will come when it is meant to come and at just the right time when it will mean the most and make the most difference and be most appreciated. Thank you for sharing my meanderings. I figured things out as I wrote them.

 

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20 thoughts on “Rescue the Rescuer!

  1. Ahhhh, but Elaine…You ARE still a rescuer…How many times have you thrown a lifeline to me over the phone when the chips continued to go down, down, down? Or how many times have you posted an encouraging word on my blogs? While you may be a retired PHYSICAL rescuer, you are a spiritual one, still, and more than likely always will be! With a heart as huge as yours? How could you not be? ❤

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  2. It is a tough transition. I’m currently faced with the same dilemma. After my children left for college I asked myself: “What happened to my life?” At one point I use to look forward the time when they would go off to college, at last my freedom well deserved, for I was a divorcee. Time to finally enjoy my life at last, but it was all the contrary. I missed the Sunday dinners, the fights… “the “Mommy… Genese is BOTHERING ME!!!!” I look back now and realized those were the best days of my life. When we spend a lifetime being Mom, we don’t really know how to transition our focus elsewhere. I’m still learning.

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    1. You are quite a resourceful person and will come out on the other side of this with the same resiliency you rebound from everything else in your life! lol Hugs!! Keep on writing! You have inspired me to write a blog now!! Thank you.

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  3. I read through this thinking, What’s wrong with being helpful? If it’s not harming you and is helping other people, how is this a problem? I was relieved when at the end you acknowledged its value. There’s such satisfaction in it, and as much joy to be gained as given. The world needs a whole lot of rescuing. Just take care of yourself as well–and it sounds like you do.

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. I worried before I posted this that I might come across as saying don’t help anyone. I am glad you gave me the opportunity to clarify this. I genuinely love people. Helping my husband was something I did without even thinking twice. I loved him and he needed my help.
      In reality helping others helped me. Caring for others gave me a sense of worth when I didn’t have much of one. My husband was emotionally abusive and I always compared myself to him and how intelligent he was. But I realized later that I was just as intelligent and had just as much to offer the world as he did.
      I did find a problem with being a rescuer. If you constantly solve other people’s problems they become dependent on you. They do not develop as quickly a grasp of how to resolve their own issues. I realized later instead of saying, “You need to… or you should…” to say, “What can you do to fix it/”
      I realize this doesn’t apply to all situations because some people genuinely don’t have a clue as to where to start solving their problems.
      Now I am seeing I need to write another blog to expound on this subject! I truly appreciate your thoughts, insights and comments, Ellen. Yes, I am taking much better care of myself now. (You might read my blog “An Introduction to Healing Wounds of the Past” to explain some of my thoughts here better.

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    2. Thank you, Ellen. I worried before I posted this that I might come across as saying don’t help anyone. I am glad you gave me the opportunity to clarify this. I genuinely love people. Helping my husband was something I did without even thinking twice. I loved him and he needed my help.
      In reality helping others helped me. Caring for others gave me a sense of worth when I didn’t have much of one. My husband was emotionally abusive and I always compared myself to him and how intelligent he was. But I realized later that I was just as intelligent and had just as much to offer the world as he did.
      I did find a problem with being a rescuer. If you constantly solve other people’s problems they become dependent on you. They do not develop as quickly a grasp of how to resolve their own issues. I realized later instead of saying, “You need to… or you should…” to say, “What can you do to fix it/”
      I realize this doesn’t apply to all situations because some people genuinely don’t have a clue as to where to start solving their problems.
      Now I am seeing I need to write another blog to expound on this subject! I truly appreciate your thoughts, insights and comments, Ellen. Yes, I am taking much better care of myself now. (You might read my blog “An Introduction to Healing Wounds of the Past” to explain some of my thoughts here better.

      Like

  4. There is such honesty in your writing! I like to read and ponder all like watching a film. I understand where you come from, and the feelings that come with it.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was born a rescuer too. Oldest of four girls, mother and aunts all nurses. I wanted to be a doctor but God had other plans! My mother died when I was 14, I took on the mother role until my dear dad died 21 years ago. Then I started to look for the real me… I am now 61, recently retired and just writing, blogging and gardening. I joined a Woman’s shed last week, going to Tai Chi again soon so life is changing slowly. I think we are entering the best years of our lives…

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  6. Joy, as long as you are not harming yourself by giving and have given yourself permission to be happy, go for all the giving you can. Blessed are the caregivers for they shall change the world. (A Bernadette beatitude.)

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    1. Thank you. I have always given freely. The one problem I saw was that some people will become dependent on me instead of solving their own problems. So I learned to help best in those situations by asking them what they thought they should/could do. Of course I will always help the truly helpless. Thanks for your support and encouragement, Bernadette. The other problemI found was that I was not confronting my own problems. It’s easier to help someone else with their problems than it is to face and solve our own. For a while I was running away from my problems.

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