A couple of days ago, I couldn’t lift a TV by myself. This infuriated me. Notice, I use the word infuriated. Not irritated or annoyed or amused, but infuriated, like I nearly punched the blasted thing through its screen. There were multiple forces at play besides the mere weight of it. It’s one of those old-school box TVs with the bulbous screen and rectangular rear end, so its awkwardness alone is an obstacle to moving it, but it’s also fairly large, and my arms are simply not designed for gripping around a mass of those proportions. My one-car garage is also not conducive to allowing much maneuvering of small objects, let alone monstrosities of that sort, and I doubt I could have gotten it out the car door anyway as the door was impeded from opening all the way by, you know, a wall. Plus, the dang thing was just plain heavy.
If it had not been such a long day, and if it had not been fairly late in said day, and if I had not just experienced one of the most exhausting and traumatic weeks of my life, I may have handled this a bit better and taken time to think it through more logically. As it was, I ended up with the television pinning my arm to my car door and nearly toppling to the ground while I used the full force of my little self to shove it back onto the back seat of the car, upside down somehow. During this debacle, I grunted and hollered and…cussed. Yes, I said a bad word. Not proud of it, and that sort of vocabulary (or lack thereof) very rarely escapes my lips, but it happened–very softly so no one else heard it–but it happened. After the incident I also learned that my sweet daughter had been trying to prevent the car door from hitting the garage wall and had her little fingers smashed by my shoving, as I didn’t much care about the car door during all of this besides the fact that it was one of the forces crushing my arm.
Usually, I am able to see the humor in these sorts of situations immediately. I’ve always been gifted with the ability to laugh at myself, but this event became very symbolic for me and the realization that hit me as a result was one I did not like very much. I was not infuriated at the TV. I was infuriated at me because of one simple, frustrating fact:
I cannot do everything on my own.
I cannot do this life that I am living without help, and I do not like relying on others. I have blogged about how much I appreciate the help of others, and it’s true. However, I seem to view it more as a convenience that other people help me out, but that I could do all those things on my own if I absolutely had to. I don’t have a problem reaching out when I need help moving furniture or even TV sets. I don’t have a problem asking someone to watch the kids or letting someone bring me dinner, but in my mind I would be able to maneuver things myself, or take the kids with me, or make my own dinner just fine. Yes, other people have helped me and I have benefited from their service and am wholeheartedly and eternally grateful to all the people who help me in my life. I just don’t want to need their help.
But I do.
I need help with all of it, every day. Not with every single thing and every single second, but I do need help. Especially with the heart and guts things–the emotional things. I need to talk. I need to cry on shoulders. I need to be desperately vulnerable and afraid sometimes and I need people to let me. For some reason, that realization powerfully surfaced as my arm was flattened between TV and car door, and it made me angry.
Something inside of me is repulsed by the idea of being truly emotionally vulnerable and needy. Some deep, hidden wound, or multiples of them, have formed a shield around that part of me that allows me to reach out and let people in. Even when I do reach out, I don’t tell people what’s actually happening inside of me or even outside of me. I just use metaphors about life or paint pictures of hope and lessons learned. Even with those I trust, that I want to share everything with, even they do not get more than bits and pieces, because I am unable or unwilling or un-something to give them the whole story, the whole picture, the whole me. I do not want to need people to feel better. I do not want to need people to feel whole. I fight against that urge so hard that I do the opposite instead and give away pieces of myself without taking anything to fill the spaces in again. Most of all, I do not want to be like him and take, take, take, without giving, so I give, give, give without taking.
This is a very “normal” thing to feel. Many people see the beauty and value in others’ vulnerability but detest it in themselves. This annoys me, too, because I take pride in the idea that I am anything but normal. Perhaps that’s another part of this lesson, to annihilate my pride. There’s also that fine line I walk between reaching out for help and reaching out to fill my codependent desperation. So that’s fun to try and analyze. It works, though, whether it’s healthy or not. Each time I reach out, I feel better. Each time I talk, even just a little bit, I feel stronger.
When I’m sitting in a dark corner of my living room shaking uncontrollably as my body responds to the intense stress and trauma that is my life and I’m barely able to breathe, let alone think straight or analyze anything, I NEED other people’s help. I’ve been practicing. I have a very small number of people I try to reach out to, because they seem safe. They are the kinds of friends who care enough to listen, but not enough to worry. I force myself to send the text or make the call because I know, over and over I’ve been shown, I need their help and they can help me. I still tend to want to help them, too, in some way, but right now, just for a bit, I’m giving myself permission to be entirely self-absorbed and selfish. They don’t seem to mind.
So, I’m learning to let people in, learning to reach out, learning to let people be for me. Perhaps I am entirely wrong and this perspective is completely unhealthy and I will just relearn a whole different lesson about this tomorrow. Oh well. I’m doing my best.
By the way, the next evening, I carried the TV into the house. By myself.
Figure that one out.