Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Serial rescuer

I hadn't heard the words 'serial rescuer' until recently. They rang an instant bell with me because they describe my mother very exactly. There is nothing she likes more that a really awful crisis because she can then rush in and offer comfort, salvation, practical support. She's always been like that. At her kitchen table there is always some person who is bereaved / lonely / sick. A few years ago (when I was in Shrink Mode) I used to judge my mother quite harshly. I felt (and I'm probably right) that she only helps other people in order to avoid her own problems. Now I don't really see it like that. I just think that it is good that she helps people and it really doesn't matter why she does it. But I do still have questions about 'serial rescuers' because (like mother, like daughter) I used to be one myself. And to some extent I still am. But something has changed and I'm not quite sure what. I've always known that if you are in the Rescue Business then you better not keep a balance sheet because you'll never make it add up. What you give out will not come back. The person who spends hours and hours telling you about their tragedy will happily shut the door on your need a year later. That's life, that's the rules of the game ...... But still I've got questions. I can't work it out. I'll have to write another post about it when I've thought it through ...... Any other serial rescuers out there who would like to comment?


Tash said...

I'm not, I don't have the patience. But my MIL is one of these (heck, I didn't even know there was a term for this!) and we often refer to her "projects." No friend too needy, no boyfriend too messed up. And without a "project" she sinks fairly rapidly into depression. I was actually a bit nervous that Bella would become her "project" and the focus of a lot of unneeded attention, but I think with events of the last year not to mention her other new granddaughter she's got plenty to keep her busy.

I didn't like that -- like you very accurately stated -- these "friends" left the minute they were done, often with money, without as much as a thankyou. I felt she was often treated like a doormat. I know there are people out there who can tend and counsel and show compassion, but I think there's a line there somewhere between doing this out of a sense of compassion and understanding, and doing it to fulfill some need and not recognizing when it starts eating into your own psyche.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with this post. You put it perfectly.
I used to be. But recently I've startly looking at it with new eyes. I've started to think the phrase 'looking after yourself' isn't so bad.
I very rarely talk about what's going on with myself. Last night (1 too many beers) I let my guard down and it all gushed out. It's ugly stuff - which is why I try not to ruin peoples' days with it. My 'friend' could barely wait for me to stop talking so she could talk about her love life. I have listened, supported and comforted this woman for years. I guess she doesn't like the tables turned. Most people are like that I think.
Once again - I'm sorry to hijack your post with a great novel! You write beautifully.

Melissia said...

My mom use to help people in this way and then talk about all the help that they needed to others. Not exactly what my idea of "help thy neighbor" means to me. She did come alive in a crisis and was very good at managing any horrible situation, but you are right, it left her drained emotionally and financially. In my younger years I did the same but am now wiser and less motivated to part with my money to help others, unless I see a real need and not just a "need right now". That does make me cynical but without the energy to rescue myself sometimes I can't be rescuing others.

janis said...

This post is eye-opening for me.
I am not a Serial Rescuer but can certainly see why some chooses to be one... keeping my eye on this thread of though...
how's the new house??

Karin said...

I don't think I am one. I think I'm too much of a loner to be one. Or perhaps this is how I am feeling now, today.

I may even be one of those people who doesn't come to the rescue when they should. Again, I don't know if that is because the events of recent years have left me completely without any resources to give - outside of giving on the internet.

It's an interesting question.

Honey said...

I've become far too selfish and too much of the 'victum' lately.. I help people but I don't let them get too close because that's when your life becomes all about them and not you. Been there done that. I see your mum, but she's also great at getting everyone to help her physically around the place at least so she shows some steel which i like.
I guess I'd make someone's perfect project right now, someone the other day labelled me disaster magnet which was fairly cruel, it's horrible these roles we adopt or have thrust upon us. Thanks for the post!