A while ago, Captain Awkward wrote this following post about sandwiches, and love, and boundaries, and things. You should go read it. It is good post.
The way you set boundaries around this is to accept what’s offered with grace and gratitude. You’re loved. Your friends are proving it to you all the time in small, cool ways that are not hard for them. They’ve been where you’ve been. They would not offer these things if they didn’t want to do them. Stop looking for evidence that you’re unworthy of this, and stop questioning these acts of kindness. Maybe your little turd-heart doesn’t deserve this love. Tough shit. You’re loved anyway. Deal with it. Let your friends feed you, and when you can in whatever way you can, feed them back.
(Now, admittedly, there are a lot of people who don’t have a support system of any sort– neither friends nor partners nor a therapist. Their concerns will not be addressed by this post. Please note that there are options for low-cost therapy, if you need it.)
This is something that I have whole fucking shitloads of problems with. My brain assumes, as a base principle, that no one wants to hear about my crazy, and that if I mention it too much or too seriously everyone will get bored with me but feel obligated to keep talking to me because if they stop I will feel bad and they don’t want me to feel bad. And God forbid I need some form of accommodation or help from my friends; I’m tharn because even asking might be an undue pressure upon them to do what they don’t want. I don’t want to be a burden.
And, you know, the whole idea of asking for help is really really hard for men in our culture. We have this fucking terrible male gender role that sets it up so that men can’t admit emotions, or weakness, or failure, for fear of being pussies and wimps and not real men. And when you need that kind of support from your friends… it’s emotions and weakness and failure.
Men are supposed to be Clint Eastwood! Loners walking off into the sunset, who don’t need anyone or anything, self-sufficient and independent and manly! Do you think Clint Eastwood ever sobbed over pancakes in a breakfast place because everything hurt for no reason? Do you think Clint Eastwood ever sat in his apartment for two days because the idea of talking to people made him seize up? Do you think Clint Eastwood ever needed his friends to hide the pills and the knives?
Newsflash: of the 3.5 billion men on the planet, 3,499,999,999 of them are not Clint Eastwood. And 3,500,000,000 of them will need some help occasionally.
Some people need more help than others, sure. But absolutely nothing is gained by hiding that you need help. Your friends want to help you. Your friends are fully capable of saying that they do not want to help you, if they don’t. (I made my partners all promise that they would tell me if they were bored or upset or didn’t want to do something, so I could confide in them without worry.) There is nothing wrong with being weak or sad or emotional sometimes. Everyone is. There is nothing wrong with being weak or sad or emotional a lot. It is not your fault.
And when someone wants to help you… don’t second-guess them. Don’t ask if they really want to. Don’t make the entire thing a referendum on whether they really really like you. Just shut up and eat the motherfucking sandwich.