Mar•tyr: 2. One who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.
If I were to romanticise myself, which I probably do more often than I like to admit, I’d most likely say I was somewhat of a martyr. I feel pretentious and ridiculous just admitting I think this way, but I really do have something in common with that burdened donkey carrying others’ weight.
You see, throughout my whole life I’ve had a “bad” habit of taking on others’ problems. I guess I’m the caring type, and somewhat easy to talk to (speaking positively about myself is killing me right now), so people have had the tendency to unburden themselves on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can be of use like that, but I’ve only now realised how damaging that has been for me. From the very beginning, from my first relationship at the (far too) young age of 12 with a boy who’s identity I shall not share, his family issues and insomnia became my issues, catapulting me from a content world of comfort into one of constant worry and heartbreak.
Not to be over dramatic, but when you’re told that someone would take their life were it not for you, it does place a certain responsibility on your small shoulders.
At the same time, I had friends who were self-harming and bulimic, and soon I began to pick up the same habits in secrecy, to relieve some of the stress and worry – only this once, I’d tell myself. Oh child, how you were wrong.
The problem was, I had nowhere to turn. When I cut myself, when I stopped eating, that same boyfriend who professed his love for me turned on his heels and abandoned ship, after all that I had sacrificed for him, after all that I had done that I now regret, he left. And after all that? I still worry about him, three years later.
What did that teach me? Well, I learned I was unlovable, that friends who say they’ll be there for you lie, not to trust anyone or let anyone in as at the end of the day, their self-interest trumps any care they have for you. I don’t blame him for being selfish, I certainly don’t blame him for the issues I have today, because I’ve learned how dangerous it is to place your entire happiness (or unhappiness) on one person.
And so, for the same reasons, I ended my next relationship before she could get hurt, before my issues could become hers, as I simply won’t let another person make the same mistakes I made. I always make sure my friends have somewhere to turn, that if they’re taking on someone else’s issues they have somewhere to unburden – and yes, I realise I’m still doing it, with strangers on Instagram and my own friends, but I can’t help it anymore. It’s become my nature, all that I am. Without it, I am as useless as a 1p coin, I have nothing to live for, because I no longer know how to live for myself, and on my own terms.
So please, if you find yourself in the same position, as a laboured donkey with a broken back, please, let them go.