I finally crashed at work today. For weeks I’ve been attempting to carry more and more of the weight, feeling responsible for anything that wasn’t done, wanting everything to be perfect. Today I gave out. I should have known it was coming, but I didn’t. It’s happened before. I panic. I say too much. I get very angry. My shoulders ache. I feel trapped. And I finally hit my limits… this morning I overslept. By TWO HOURS. My body told me what my brain didn’t: enough is enough.

Thankfully, everyone seems to have understood. They can begin to realize how much I’ve been doing, and admitted they weren’t aware that I was doing all that I was. They are considering making small changes that will remove some of the weight. My boss was apparently pretty angry when she realized what was happening. There is still a disagreement about what will be done, but it’s better. And since my coworkers did help some this morning, even though I missed two hours of work, I was caught up by the end of the day.

I have a problem with overworking and overgiving, and because I struggle with feeling like I need to do all of the work or all of the giving, because I feel guilt if I don’t give or don’t do more and feel responsible for anything that is not done or not given, I know both are areas I need to watch. In order to keep from giving too much, I don’t usually give at all. If I start, I overdo it. So ask me to help in other ways, but not with money. If I’m not careful I’d be broke. I’ve given thousands away because I felt guilty, felt encouraged to, or felt responsible for making up any differences. I can’t do that any more.

The hurricanes have triggered me: everyone wants help. But I can’t provide the billions in aid that is needed. I can’t give away my tools or supplies, either. No one will give back to me. I’ve learned that much. So all I can do is say no. And I can get angry. Angry that the charities the money is funneled through take portions for themselves beyond what is necessary. Angry that the government is giving to organizations without vetting them first. Angry that some of those organizations, particularly religious organizations, will use the funding to benefit themselves rather than those with the most dire needs. Forgive me for my anger and my resistance. I’ve been the one asked too many times. Asked by the pastor driving the Cadillac to give several thousand to a “sister in Christ”… from my own $14,000 salary. Asked at a time when I didn’t have health insurance and had eaten so much chicken ($0.29/lb for a ten pound bag of legs and thighs) that once I did have a decent job I got queasy at the thought of eating any more of it. Asked at a time when expenses were so tight that I really do still remember the price of the things that I could afford even though it’s been 20 years since that happened. And forgive me that I’m resistant… resistant to giving when I’ve seen what I gave used to purchase that Cadillac instead of helping those with real needs, seen men given meager portions of their large funds (with loud applause) while telling teens and young adults that were struggling to survive that they should give everything they had.

Everywhere I turn there are requests for more to be given. Everyone either has a need or knows someone with a need. I have one too: I have a need to not feel guilty for not chipping in to every fund that is started. I haven’t gotten there yet, but hopefully someday I will. Hopefully I will be able to give some, because I’d like to and because the needs that the requests are for are often very real. But I can’t right now.

I have the same problem with overworking. I want to do everything. I see a need and I want to throw myself at it until it is complete. I stress about it, dream about it, live and breathe it every moment. I get angry that no one else is helping with it, and I get angry at myself for trying to do too much. It’s been especially difficult lately because I was warned that the new director would “destroy” anyone who said something wasn’t their job. And since then more and more has become my job that is not in my scope of work. I finally was able to tell him today that if he ever heard me say something wasn’t my job, I wasn’t saying in any way that I wouldn’t assist all that I could, but simply reminding myself of something I tend to lose sight of: I cannot carry everyone’s weight and I am not responsible for everything that happens in an office or department. I am not responsible for the action or inaction of others.

I’m not sure how much of this is related to spiritual abuse, but at least some of it is. The demands on time and money were real and the expectations were huge. The guilt trips still run through my mind regularly when there is a need and I don’t throw everything into it. Perhaps they were worse for me… my dear pastor emphasized that I had a savings account, and hinted that I should drain it for others who had less. He never said that outright, but he crossed a boundary with his requests many times. He knew how little I made because he knew what my tithe was, but he still pressured me. He never stopped, but I finally did–the day he asked me to help a couple who had taken an early retirement buyout and then spent it all on frivolous things, then didn’t have enough for groceries. He wanted me to give them the money to buy their steak when my personal food budget was much less than $1/meal. That was the day I finally said no, and that was the day his requests stopped. I moved soon after that, but the requests, the constant guilt-trip ‘reminders’ that I was ‘blessed’ with the time and energy and money so that I could give it all away, have stuck. The only way to stop them right now is to say no. It’s not selfishness that drives that, though it probably seems like it to some. It’s not selfishness, it’s sense, driven by desperation.