You will martyr yourself over and over again in order to meet the invisible quota of Lives Helped that floats above your head.
You will obsessively analyze how every choice you make might impact those around you.
You will assess every meal, every dollar spent, every vacation taken (or not taken) based on how it will impact the people you feel a responsibility to care for.
Because, in this unhealthy version of caregiving, our understanding of love has become warped. Love now looks like a relentless string of sacrifice.
Your thoughts might go something like this:
If I don’t love her with my constant presence, she will feel sad and lonely.
If I don’t love him with my attentive eye observing everything, he’ll get sick again, or maybe even die.
If I don’t love them with my efficiencies managing everything, someone will get hurt. Things will go very wrong if I’m not here to take care of them all.
Sometimes, love calls on us to invest our energy and time in tending to someone else’s pain.
But not 100 percent of the time. And not with the nurturing going down a one-way street, pouring out of the same person, over and over again.
If you see this pattern in any of your relationships, consider what it would take to expand your definition of what it means to nurture, to love, to care for.