Overdrawn. Again! (Ouch!)  

Posted by Heidi in

Mothers are willing to do so much for their children. It’s not easy but we have faith that all the love & food and clothing & shelter and directing & teaching and hugs & kisses we give them will one day result in the reward we desire. We give and give and give and often feel as if we get little back---but we are willing to wait (and hope and pray and sometimes beg) that everything we put into our child will be worth it at some point in the future.

Plants and flowers are much the same. We plant them in good soil, we provide them sun and food and water and if we are true devotees, we talk to them. (Everybody does that—right?) (Seriously, everyone does!) (I am not a weirdo.) We are fully aware that the relationship is currently out of balance, that we are doing all the giving and the plant is just sitting there being small and non-talkative and a “taker”. However, we know that they will one day richly reward us for our trouble, much faster than even children will, and that very soon we will have the chance to feast on their beauty, revel in their fragrance, eat of their fruit and, if we are true devotees, kiss their velvety soft petals. (Not. A. Weirdo.) (I also love to put baby toes in my mouth but still—not a weirdo!)

Adults, however, are not always so generous with other adults. We make our deposits into the relationship bank with the expectation that others will make corresponding deposits before too much time passes. Meanwhile, we willingly allow them to make withdrawals from the account as long as they don’t run into the red. Complicating matters a bit is the fact that some of us have different perceptions as to what is a true deposit and what is a true withdrawal. One can go into the red with one withdrawal simply because we are unaware as to how much it cost the person on the other end of the transaction or because one has overestimated the worth of their deposits in the eyes of another. Or perhaps, we go blithely along not realizing that our account with a certain person is overdrawn while the person who feels like a run has been made on her bank sits and fumes in silent resentment (after all, it’s not polite to talk about money).

What does one do when they feel that their relationship account with another is sadly overdrawn?

What does one do when one truly wants to make deposits but genuinely doesn’t have the wherewithal to do so?

How long should we be patient with someone we care about? Should we carry the account indefinitely?

Here is the hardest question of all: What do two people who care about each other do when both feel like their account has been overdrawn and both feel that they have nothing left to give? (
Please tell me, because I really need to know.) (And, no, I'm not talking about me and The Spouse--didn't you read my last post?)

This entry was posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 at Friday, February 26, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

29 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Sometimes, you have to walk away. I assume you are talking about a friendship, and not your marriage?

I had to break up with a friend, about 18 months ago. It was hard and it sucked, but the lightbulb moment came when I realized I was working harder at our friendship than I was my marriage. And she wasn't working at all.

I sometimes miss her, but the relationship wasn't healthy for me anymore. I wish her all the best and hope she's happy, but my life is so much more drama free without her.

February 26, 2010 at 12:48 PM

FWIW, I agree with Kristina. Anything less than your marriage might require the account to be closed. For your marriage--a transfusion of funds/grace via the Atonement can work wonders in getting the books back into the black. I've seen it a number of times. Good luck!!!

February 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM

I remember having a discussion about this type of thing with a friend of mine. She didn't "break-up" with her friend, but the friend's life took a different path and left her behind. She has similar feelings to Kristina in terms of life being easier without that friendship. I don't think I really have any demanding friendships. The only favors people ever ask of me are to teach lessons or give talks on short notice, because they know it doesn't bother me. I don't ask many favors, either (except of my one dear friend who provides child care for my youngest so I can volunteer in the school--but I'm going to return that favor next year). I don't know how I would react to someone actually having expectations of me...

February 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM

True, there are toxic relationships out there, that's for sure. I have had to walk away from a few of those myself. And, no, I'm not talking about my sweet hubby. He is always my first priority and things are going great, there. Still, there are other people who aren't so easy to walk away from. Because my husband's and kids needs are so demanding and b/c I have plenty of my own special needs, I often don't have anything left for others. It makes things hard.

February 26, 2010 at 2:05 PM

The perils of my play being over are that I now have time to post and re-post. I admire your sense of priorities. If the account is empty after you've met those first priorities...it's empty. My wife and I had some dear friends who did not have children. They often thought (I think) that we were being unfriendly or uninterested. Really we were just busy and, as you say, just didn't have a lot left.

By the way, I love it when I hear women talk about their husbands in such glowing terms. It's really, really cool.

February 26, 2010 at 2:10 PM

I am not sure what to say. I probably have not learned how to walk away from such situations. But from the outside, I can see how it would be good. I like Kristina's example.

February 26, 2010 at 2:27 PM

I think there are some relationships like you have to do what Kristina said (who said it very well) and there are some where you just have to ask for what you need. That is probably the hardest thing I've ever done--really--just saying "I need ____ this from you because I don't like our friendship anymore." I know it hurt them but after we "cleared the air" about it, I think we found hidden reserves to give back to each other and then it started to get better.

February 26, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Oh wow. This hit close to home because I am in the process of trying to decide what to do with a particular relationship as well. For me I have had to evaluate how much I am willing to give without getting anything back. If I can give freely and not be bothered by the lack of reciprocity then I think I can stay in the relationship. But when I start to feel used and abused and totally under appreciated, (which is where I am now) then I think it is time to get out. Or at least put some distance between me and the friend. I wish I could just give freely though and not worry about accounts one way or the other. But this has made me so sad, that I do think I need some space. Perhaps you just need some space as well. You don't need to necessarily end a relationship, just back away from it for a while. But my experience also is that if you back away, you need to find something else to fill that space in your life, or you will just feel empty. Best of luck to you.

February 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Yikes, that is an interesting question. I think many times that I make TONS of deposits into a relationship....and there have been little withdrawals.
I feel always like the giver.......I would like for once to be the receiver.
I don't mean to sounde Whinny or anything like that. maybe my perception isn't real???

do we want to develop no Real realtionships because of the Hurt that is possible
or take the risks, and say we tried.
I don't know.

I know you weren't talking about your spouse.
but HEY, I have been married 3 times.
what do I know.

February 26, 2010 at 9:00 PM

being emotionally overdrawn sucks - and when it's just ONE of you (in a friendship case) it's pretty apparent that something is lopsided. "dumping" a friend can be awkward (especially when your husbands grew up together and they practically live in your backyard... not that this is hitting a nerve...) but sometimes the only healthy move.

When it's BOTH of you with overdrawn emotions - and BOTH of you are trying to make it work... that's even harder... time and space and a lot of ice cream. And probably at least one good cry. (again, purely hypothetically of course... MAN is this timely for me...)

February 26, 2010 at 9:19 PM

Space can be what cools off your relationship. I have had to do this. I still see this person regularly, we just don't "hangout" like we used to. I was very hurt at first, but realized that we we heading in different directions and had different ideas about things. With this said, I choose to maintain an arms-length relationship vs cutting all ties in some instances. It doesn't always have to be all or nothing if the friendship isn't toxic.

February 26, 2010 at 10:25 PM

We can physically walk away, but in my case, after a friend break-up, I missed that person. It was a repeated pattern with us. Email from her saying I asked for too much. Email from me saying her last "check" came back stamped "insufficient funds". After this last two- year period of silence between us I finally approached her with a compromise. It seems to be working. I don't want to be a doormat, but I DO want to give people I care about repeated chances. Isn't that what we ask for too, in the spiritual sense? Luckily I have learned a lot about myself in the process, and in this situation I mentioned, the compromise is that we have spent most of the past 3 months at arms length, communicating mostly through print. Anyone who loves you will try and be empathetic to your situation.

February 27, 2010 at 5:04 AM

I agree with Kristina... I have been there too. It does suck to lose a friend, but sometimes it sucks more to try to make something work that isn't.

BUT... you have to go with your heart. Sometimes you just need to take a step back, work on filling yourself up and then see where you can go with the friendship.
It's okay to take a break and refill yourself.

I DO talk to my plants\flowers!!! I do! I do! We are weirdos together! :)

February 27, 2010 at 5:50 AM

Hello, Heidi, I haven't been around much, and I am sorry for your bucket being emty. I think that is why I have never cultured any close friends. The one I had 30 years ago kinda hurt when the company went bankrupt and we no longer saw each other each day. He was no longer interested in keeping in touch.

So my wife, who was already my best fiend, became my only friend (of course my children are best friends also).

Now that my Honey is gone, my neighbor and his family have become a friend, along with a nephew and his family.

I'm sure this isn't helping you though, to here my sad/glad story. I just enerce myself in my hobbies, and I have my theropy cat when I get blue. Arlon

February 27, 2010 at 9:39 AM

I have found that with my truest of true friendships we can both go months and even years without seeing or talking to each other and then when that opportunity rolls around again, it was like there was no time in between.

What a good analogy, by the way. I had a friend in Utah who was take take take and I mentally checked her off my list, although I was still polite and would invite her to my girls nights n' stuff.

That being said, I feel like I've been the taker with a handful of my friendships lately. Maybe I should work on that this week.

Thanks for this post.

February 27, 2010 at 1:45 PM

It's hard. Honesty is always the best policy though. I think that either a frank heart-to-heart or a simple walking away are the best things to do. Sometimes even a "break" will help. I had to do that with a particularly difficult friend. She is one who makes far more withdrawals than she does deposits, and I know that. But she was majorly overdrawn and I need to close the account for just a bit. After about 6 months, I eased back in, and I think we have a better relationship than ever. I don't know.

Prayer. The Atonement. Those are good things in these situations, too. I wish you all the best, and I also know that a true friend or family member is one who will really understand what it is that is holding you back right now.

And, you are not a weirdo. No way. :)

February 27, 2010 at 8:36 PM

I had a friend who I felt like just took and took and took and hardly ever gave back. She made me unhappy. Why would I want to be her friend if I'm not even happy around her? So I tried to cut things off with her. Its hard to do. That being said, she was just a friend and they can come and go.

When its a family member thats overdrawing, THAT is really hard. You can't just cut off family members so easily. (Nor would you want to, I'm sure.) I know when I've had a hard time with relatives (still am, to be honest) I just have to put some distance between myself and them until I feel like I can handle the situation better. Learn look at the good things (its too easy to focus on all the things that are bothering us) :) and hopefully just time away will make things better.

And that is all my advice. :)

February 28, 2010 at 10:34 AM

If it is a friend, it is probably better to part ways (hopefully on somewhat peaceful terms if possible).

If it is a spouse or family member ... I think that with spouses this is one reason get divorced. Both people are overdrawn and have nothing left they feel like they can give. So many people deplete each other in relationships.

The only way to get past this is to FORGIVE and learn to trust each other enough to renourish each other. I think it is hard to do this. I think few people make it through this because they don't trust each other any more to even care about the other person's needs much less help to meet them.

It's overwhelming. Most people declare emotionally bankruptcy and just leave the relationship.

Sorry that I don't have a lot of answers. But prayer can help soften hearts. Both people would have to be motivated to "fix" this, to admit their part in causing this, and pray for softening of hearts, fast, and seek guidance in how to rebuild trust and help refill each other's accounts.

March 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

This IS hard, Heidi. I was just thinking today that yes, I struggle with trust and then I decided that no, I don't really need to change that I struggle with trust. I need to change how I handle that struggle. Do I let it engulf me in fear and comparing and other unhealthy things? Or do I love anyway, knowing that everyone will let me down at some point, as I will let them down. I think it's when we've been the one that has to forgive over and over and over that we have to at least set up more boundaries or even fully walk away.

When it's both people, I don't know. I wish I had answers for that. A break? A breather?

Lately I've been learning a lot about not over-thinking, but just trusting my gut instead. FEELING things FOR REAL rather than just think-think-thinking on them. So many times the answer is plain and simple if you just pay attention to your gut and not a busy mind. For me, anyway.

Obviously, I'm generally confused :)

March 1, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I have a friend like the one Kristina describes. I'm still her friend...in a way. I don't give her so much of my heart these days. I took a few steps back. Took some time to find friends who want to be my friend as well as NEED to be. It still exhausts me at times but I know how to disengage now. To save myself time and energy for my family instead of her.

March 2, 2010 at 4:06 PM

O.k. so you must have been guided by the spirit to post about this particular struggle. I too struggle with these types of things. There is one struggle in particular going on as I type this response. What I have had to do lately is just put it all in perspective. It's not fair for me to expect more than the other person can give or wants to give. If I choose to give, I have to just know I am doing it because I love that person, not because I am expecting anything out of it. I do distance my self A LOT from friendships outside of my husband, kids, and family. But this particular friend really feels just like family and so I do forgive and forget when I feel my account being "overdrawn." Protect yourself, and try to see things through different eyes. And by all means, back away. I love caller I.D., email, and texting. It allows me to talk when I am ready and want to. Good luck with everything.
Love you!!

March 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Um...take a vacation? Get counseling?

I LOVE that first shot. Is it yours? And, of course, the rose is stunning, also.

March 7, 2010 at 4:54 PM

I find that when my friends stress me out I just gotta be ok with the 'me' time. I make sure to find something great that I want to do and that will give me a lot of fulfillment. A cold turkey walking away might seem difficult so perhaps just get really involved with something else so that your time is taken up elsewhere and a natural hold is being put upon the relationship. Then when you've had some time perhaps you can start it up again with small things to make sure you both have time/energy to commit to it.

March 9, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Oh, Heidi. I don't know.
I hesitate to permanently end a once-good friendship. I think we can just gently let the friendship down for a while, and if it ever picks up again that's good, and if it doesn't, well, you tried.

March 10, 2010 at 4:51 AM

I've read this post a couple of times and not left a comment, because I didn't know what advice to give. Until now.

Sounds so cliche, I know, but the thing that came to mind this last time is this:

Pray about it.

Because really, the Lord is the one who knows best if we are supposed to keep giving to that particular person for a little longer, or if we need to step back or cut them loose.

I wish I had the answer. I really do. That kind of situation is really tough.

Hang in there, Heidi!

March 10, 2010 at 5:38 PM

I have some accounts that will remain open indefinitely...no matter how far into the red it goes!

And you're right, much of the time people have no idea of the "cost" of their withdrawals...which terrifies me that I, too, might be pulling reckless amounts out of my valued relationships.

March 11, 2010 at 10:39 PM

I have had some experiences on both sides of the balance book.

Sure there are people who endlessly make withdrawals and thus you must withdrawal. Unless you are the Savior, then your account is always at the mercy of the world.

But I've also had friends that make too many deposits with expectations of high interest rates. That can be tough too. Deposits are welcome so long as they don't come with too great of expectations. I feel uncomfortable when too much attention or gifts are paid. I like everything to remain in balance.

March 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

These things can be so hard. I think it's impossible to give one answer because the specifics can be so different.

Janelle brings up interesting points, too. Balance is important. Good relationships take some work, but at some point, I think friendships especially shouldn't be SO much work that they drain, ya know?

I dunno. Humans are hard. ;)

And I think of you often because there is so much already inherently draining in your life...and I wonder about what someone said above -- if maybe you might have some needs that someone could help fill if you feel comfortable asking.


Just know I am thinking of you, even though I know I don't have answers.

March 18, 2010 at 10:10 PM

One more thought -- is the withdrawal of the account happening directly because of the relationship dynamics, or because of outside dynamics? Because if its the latter, it could just be that you could step back and say, "Life doesn't allow for more right now, but it's not about you and me, it's about life and craziness."

At some point, I think true friends understand and respect each others' limits and don't make demands that cannot be fulfilled -- not out of malice, but just out of pure and true limitations -- limitations that we all have!

March 18, 2010 at 10:12 PM

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