the presence of burden

We all carry loads of weight and worry through life. Some are emotional packages of haunted pasts. Others are physical wounds lodged within our bodies resulting from those uncompromising rules of cause and effect. More are mental burdens that grow heavier and lighter depending upon whether we sail into winds of fortune or disaster.

I am currently living in a place of fortune. My physical ailments are minimal and amenable to spiritual intervention. I am as securely employed as anyone can be these days and my salary meets my expenses and debts and allows me to save for retirement with grateful awareness. My emotional baggage is a matter of personal choice, but the mental acrobatics I am performing to dodge the cannonballs people are firing at me lately are exhausting.

There are loved ones in my life who are victims (some of it self-inflicted) and walking on that dangerous border between feast in a warm shelter or famine under a twinkling cold night sky.
My 20/20 hindsight can clearly see that they should have made different decisions and wonders “where was their foresight?”

These family members have turned to me to help them with their situations. A part of me wants to help, while another part of me is fiercely protective of the life I have created for myself. Some errant wisdom in me says that my helping them would interfere with their growth process . . . that if I patch up their situations, they will just continue to make bad decisions, not learn to take care of themselves, and forever remain ignorant of how resourceful they can truly be. Another nagging wisdom points out that they need support and I have resources that can help them . . . but at a price to me and my security.

I stumble over what my responsibility is to them. What is my obligation to the people and creatures I witness in distress? Is it my duty to share my blessings in an existence that is not fair? (Note to self: I worked hard and sacrificed much to get these blessings.)

My ability to make life fair for my loved ones is limited by their efforts to make life fair for themselves. Nothing about the situation feels good: my heart hurts for myself if I help them and hurts for them if I do not. I do not delude myself with the fantasy that if I help them now, they will help me in the future should I need it.

I think I will let the spirits duel it out.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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11 Responses to “the presence of burden”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara – You hit the nail squarely on the head when you said,

    “My ability to make life fair for my loved ones is limited by their efforts to make life fair for themselves.”

    This person has an established track record. It’s proved itself again and again.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — you are so right about the track record. I am working very hard to stay out of “rescue” mode and offering support by way of positive affirmation of their ability to take care of themselves.

  2. jeffstroud Says:


    This is the place where your education as well as spirit come into action. Listening to the needs, asking probing questions, having them “discover” the options, listening, being present…

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      That is a very good way to go, Jeff. I honestly had not thought about it. The probing questions and letting them give the answers instead of me offering solutions.

  3. Gil Says:

    This has resonated very deeply with me. Feeling overburdened today, I am a “rescuer”, very often sacrificing my wants and needs in an attempt to satisfy others wants. What they tell me they want and what I perceive to be their actual need are very often not in alignment. Obviously the best course of action would to be address the need,if possible. The worst is when I give in to somebody else’s want and they discover that “that” was not what they needed after all…

  4. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    Amen and thank You!
    I would like to share this with others today!!!!
    You are, as Laurie states, “Right on!”

    You are so right:
    Nothing about the situation feels good: my heart hurts for myself if I help them and hurts for them if I don’t.

    I am so going to read this and make it a heartstamp today!!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — if I could do one thing for them that would not jeopardize me, I would. And that is the line I have to draw. It does not ease my anxiety about what will happen to my family members but it eases my anxiety about what will happen to me.

  5. sandiwhite Says:

    There is no comfortable way around this, what they want you to do is fix their lives. We’ve all been there, and it tears at our hearts and most importantly, our peace of mind. Peace of mind is something I value more and more, it is something that all the treasure in the World cannot buy for us. With out a good solid base (think pyramid ), it can be rocked and even overturned. Nobody will make the decision but you, how many people will be affected in the long run by the decision will also fall on you. Sometimes it is too much to handle on your own, and you have to access a Wisdom greater than your own. That Wisdom is there for a good reason and you are part of that reason.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi – sometimes I buy my peace of mind; it is a rocky place to be for sure. I worry that my efforts are all that are keeping loved ones intact and if I don’t supply the $$, they will fall apart (or certainly be homeless) but I can’t do that very often or for very long. I would run out of money quickly. But the problem is greater than I can solve alone — I need them to help themselves and the M of U to handle what I cannot.

  6. passionatepresence Says:

    I resonate with Laurie and your last sentence “I think I will let the spirits duel it out.”

    What I say to myself in these situations is “When I don’t know what to do, do nothing until clarity arrives.”

    Sometimes it is tough to stick with, and I have never regretted doing so.

    More Than The Best!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Ben — thanks for your moral support and wisdom (i.e., do nothing). While it is tough to stick with such a decision, it is even tougher for me to try and recover from “saving” them from themselves. Take care.

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