Disentangling was pretty ugly. Myra didn’t take it well at all. She was at my door to ask for more bread, and could she come out of the heat again. I realized that my generosity had spurred a dependency after all. I said now wasn’t a good time because I needed to get on with the work of my day, and it was too difficult with a guest. I reminded her that we had helped her out a lot, given her a whole bag of groceries, and we didn’t regret the help we had given, but going forward, the frequency of our help was going to be much less. Our family needed to come first. I also told her (again) that she needed to take steps to help herself and solve the core of her problems instead of continuing to get temporary fixes.
She actually fought back! Pulled out the guilt weapon. “I didn’t know I was such an imposition. I’ll pay you for your food. I can write you a check. But what about that you told me you would drive me to the store sometimes? Does this mean I can’t visit your church? You’re not honoring your religion because you’re not taking care of widows.” I found it so unsettling to be arguing with a total stranger about whether they could have access to YOUR home and YOUR food.
For back-up and emphasis, I called Chris at work and had him explain to her our position while I listened on the other phone. Chris said he wanted to be clear what our limits were so there was no disappointment or confusion on her part in the future. He pointed out that the level of commitment she expected from me was more than I could give right now while taking care of our small children and that the county’s professionals were much more equipped to help her. They do that full-time and they have many, many more resources at their disposal.
Honestly, I think it all went in one ear and out the other. She went away really hurt and rejected after stalling and yapping for AN HOUR. It’s sad this had to happen, but I can’t beat myself up for the good intentions I had & the good deeds I’ve done.
Some good has come out of this.
- I’m pretty sure she’s a couple days farther away from dying now that she’s had at least a couple nutritious meals and a couple hours in the clean, cool air of our home..
- I’ve had a huge lesson both about giving out my phone number (ummm… that’s not going to happen again EVER! Yes, slap my hand about that one again. I’ll let you slap it. Go ahead.)
- I feel much closer to my kids & husband. After she left each time, I felt this huge need to pull them close to me and hold on to them tightly. I was just so excited to spend time with them without her there.
- I’m not sure why I felt the promptings that I did to give her some help. Why did Heavenly Father put her in my path? At this point, I’m pretty sure the main reason was to teach me to say NO!!!!!!!!!!!! But who knows. I’m still open to learn from God and I still trust him.
Back to Quantum Leap, if I were Sam Beckett, would I actually call the county for help, feeling what this woman feels? Recently, I have had a chat with another neighbor who has lived in the neighborhood for a while & she provided me with the following rumors about Myra. She said that yes, Myra is actually certifiably crazy. Even before her husband died, she used to wander around the neighborhood in a sketchy way and kipe peoples’ UPS boxes from their front porches. She was institutionalized for a short time for schizophrenia* after her husband died. So of course everyone’s “out to get her.” Alarmingly, her home should probably be condemned. Trash never goes out of it, and there might even be a dead dog in there that no one has seen in a while. Her pipes burst a while back, were never fixed, so the fear is that she is in there with no running water. Perhaps she turns it on every now and then to fill up a bucket when she needs water, etc. She did say that she drinks only bottled water and sometimes gets her hair shampooed at Springfield Mall. She was wearing the same exact outfit Friday through Tuesday, and I’m sure she would still have it on if I saw her today. Ewwwwwwww!! Also, she probably has no electricity. That fits with the fact that she was out of food a day after I gave her a whole bag of food. Almost all I gave her was perishable. And no A/C, like she mentioned. I know all of this actually sounds more like a horror movie starring a backwoods scary old lady rather than a TV sit-com starring a handsome actor. Where was this info before I let her into my home these 2 times????? But my point is that she has good reason to fear the county. She stands to lose everything she owns, including her freedom from being confined in a mental institution.
Just so you know-- I am now definitely emotionally and physically as disentangled as I can get from that situation. Even though my emotions occasionally swing back and forth between pity, disgust, frustration, fear, and sadness, I am not conflicted anymore about what my actions need to be. Now it’s just a matter of literally and figuratively Lysol-ing & bleaching my entire house. It’s over (I HOPE!) & I just want to forget about it now that I’ve had the chance to dump my thoughts onto this blog. As tempted as I am to call the county health department about the suspicions that my friend has about her home, that would mean entanglement, and I am DONE WITH IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Has this ever happened to any of you? Or am I the only world’s biggest sucker? I would love to hear any stories you have about becoming more entangled than you wanted, and how you got free! Comment away.
*I have been around mentally ill people and studied it in law school, in depth in a “Mental Illness and the Law” class. The class was so excellent. We had a doctor from St. Elizabeth’s bring in a real brain for us to look at, and we had speakers who had suffered from major illnesses come in and speak. We visited a psychiatric hospital, and a great deal of the class was on the major illnesses themselves. In this footnote, I just want to say I never saw any visible signs that Myra had anything wrong with her other than maybe slight senility UNTIL we started saying “no” to her. I think she knew she needed to appear “normal” to us to get our help. Still, the mental illness stuff is just a rumor, but even if none of the rumors are true, I’ve had enough experience with her to know that to protect myself & my family, I have to stay as far away as I can.