Defining my boundaries

It’s no surprise that I get messages here and on social media from people struggling with thoughts of suicide. And from parents suffering from a loss or with the active addiction or mental illness of a loved one.

So where do I draw the line? Draw my boundaries?

The truth is, I can only do so much. I have limitations. I can’t offer a magic formula, fix it for another person or take away the pain.

The most important thing I can do is listen. Appreciate that person’s story. Respect their journey and try to point them in the right direction.

When it comes to people who come to the website by searching for ways to die on Google, all I can do is try to keep them safe for now. I have to accept that not everyone will stay on the site. I have to accept that I may not know what happens. I can learn from their surfing patterns and make changes that results in keeping people on the site longer, hoping that they’ll choose life. That’s all I can do. I can’t save the world no matter how much I want to.

When Charles was alive, we had to have boundaries or our lives would have been chaos. And those boundaries had to shift given the situation.  In his final hour, they didn’t shift in the right direction and we lost him.

All I can do is the best I can do with the information I have at the time.

 

Dear frozen parents

Author: Anne Moss Rogers

I am the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am President of Beacon Tree Foundation, advocates for youth mental health as well as a writer and public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. I was a marketing professional for years prior to losing my son and co-owned a digital marketing firm.

5 thoughts on “Defining my boundaries”

  1. It’s an interesting thing to be a “helper.” You go through phases. Initially you are just trying to find your own way and that leads to impacting and helping others. You find a new sense of purpose and the adrenaline flows, you are ecstatic to be helping others and sort of feel that your empathy has such deep reserves based on personal experience that you can do this forever. It begins to define you. And then, over time, the weight of carrying others’ pain begins to take its toll on you. Those who remain successful in the helping professions recognize this shift early and put boundaries on themselves to preserve the ability to give. Those who miss the signs and symptoms burn out. With good boundaries and self care the joy in giving and supporting others remains. This is so important and I’m delighted to see you express this here. I hope it will be an encouragement to other helpers to also give grace to themselves. [Spoken as one who has done the helping thing through working in hospice and has burned out, left the field and then returned with much stronger boundaries… and found the greatest joy in many years of working with patients and families. 😊 ]

    1. THAT is so perfectly said Amy. I think my years with Charles, 5 to be exact, where he really struggled, forced me to define boundaries. So when people started to reach out, I had a vague sense that I needed to define boundaries after that experience but I had to figure out where they were. (My 12 steps from FA sing songing in my head.) But yeah, I was gung ho right at first and realized as a grieving mother, I did not have the capacity of Superman.

  2. Listening is a loving act. Thanks for giving that to the hurting who reach out to you. You’re blooming where you are planted.

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