Am I Too Much for You?

Do you ever wonder if you’re too much for those you love? Do you ever worry that you will burden them? Do you ever feel that your loved ones already have enough on their plate to be concerned about your upsets? These are probably feelings that we all have from time to time. We feel it is better to hold in our upset feelings rather than take a chance that we might further burden our friends or partner. 

Two women friends came to a workshop of ours. These two single women had been best friends for a long time and really seemed more like twin sisters than friends. They cared and loved each other very much. Because they each held very responsible jobs many miles from each other, they only saw one another several times a year. But they talked on the phone every day, sometimes for just a few minutes. They also worried about one another. They worried that the current boy friend was not the right one. They worried that the other was working too hard or not in good enough health. Their relationship to one another was very touching to the rest of us in the workshop. 

During the afternoon session, the one friend came to the other friend in tears. Because of her concern for her friend, she had been hiding her own feelings of depression and despair that she would ever feel okay again. Through tears streaming down her face she said, “Am I too much for you?” You seem to be having so much of your own troubles to deal with, and your troubles seem bigger than mine.” 

Her friend looked at her with such love and said, “When you share your troubles with me, it helps me so much and is the greatest gift. Even though my challenges are great right now, when you share yours with me, it gives me a chance to step out of my own difficulties and truly be there for you. I have known that you have been withholding your feelings from me, and that has brought a distance to our relationship. I want to hear fully from you. You can never be too much for me.” 

In a couple’s workshop, a woman was complaining that her husband of thirty years seemed so different lately. She knew he had been going through some intense problems with his siblings over the estate left by his parents, as well as work problems. Usually, in their marriage, they shared everything, but now he was silent and rarely spoke with her about his stresses. To be sure, she had her own share of problems taking care of her elderly parents as well as having to continue to work full time. But her biggest pain was her husband’s absence of communication.

Finally he confessed that he had started using marijuana again after quitting for ten years. His marijuana use had been a major issue in the past, and since he quit they were getting along much better. He couldn’t look into her eyes as he spoke, “You seem to be having so many of your own problems that I didn’t want to burden you with mine. But I have not been able to handle the stress on my own so I turned to marijuana to numb my feelings and allow me to go on.”

She said, “Whenever you’ve shared your upset feelings with me, we’ve grown closer. I want the closeness with you by knowing everything you are going through. Numbing as a way of protecting me is actually pushing me away and is very painful.”

This man agreed to be honest with his wife in the future and to stop using marijuana. He realized his authentic self was not too much for her, and putting on a false front was pushing her away.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am too much for Barry. When something upsetting happens to me, or to our children, I tend to talk about it a lot. And sometimes I wonder if Barry would like me to not talk so much. So I asked him about this. He told me that my feelings are never too much for him, but sometimes the timing is not right, especially right before we go to sleep when he is too tired. At these times he may be quiet and sometimes I get hurt. So we agreed to a plan. When I need to talk about something, I’ll ask him if it’s a good time. And he has agreed to honestly tell me if the timing is not right, and agree to the next available time. So far this plan has worked very well. And I have asked the same of him, for sometimes he brings up something stressful right before we go to sleep. I want to hear about everything that bothers Barry, so I agree to talk about it the next day.

It is important to share our upsets, concerns and worries with loved ones. Hiding these from them only creates a feeling of separateness. Sharing them at an appropriate time can create closeness, especially if we begin the conversation by saying, “I need your help and wisdom with something that is bothering me.” Then see how you are not too much for your loved one.
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