No easy answer here. When my brother told me he started using drugs I was at a funeral for a close friend’s parent and wasn’t able to talk to him. I thought, “How could these two horrible things be happening at once? And how do I support my friend and my brother who is reaching out for help?” I told my brother I was at a funeral and couldn’t talk, would call him in a bit. When I tried to call back he responded by telling me he used because I wasn’t there for him. That was HARD to hear, and I couldn’t believe I was dealing with two big challenges at once. But I had to keep it together for my friend because in that moment that was the only thing I could realistically do. Right then and there the only thing that was in my control was being there for my friend, and I could not predict what my brother was going to do. I felt horrible about not being able to support my loved one and this emotionally drained me at the time.
A few tips:
- Be kind to yourself. We don’t always have to “keep it together”.
- Accept your fallibility - as human beings we cannot perfectly handle all of those problems at once. So do your best to avoid condemning yourself for not being able to manage everything perfectly at once.
- Try and take a moment to put everything in perspective and know that most problems that seem insurmountable and catastrophic will be addressed when you are available (emotionally and physically) to tend to them.
- Prioritize what needs your closest attention and ask yourself: Who can I do the most for in this moment? Where can I be the most effective? Can I handle all of this chaos on my own or can I ask someone close to help me?
- Never forget to take time to check in with yourself. We can’t help others if we’re not taking care of ourselves.
It comes down to the ability to accept our own limitations and work on being present and mindful. This takes practice, experience, and time. This is not easy but that’s life: ups and downs, and we can learn from all the ups and all the downs.