Sometimes we would rather Thelma and Louise ourselves off a cliff than feel dependent on someone.
Because depending on someone, inevitably, invariably, blows the hell up.
We don’t want to have to ask for the favour, borrow the money, impose on the time, space, peace or FREE WILL, of another human being, then feel the inner shrink and cringe while our sought after helper silently rains down the judgment…or WORSE, acts all like, unconditionally supportive and loving, like we all need help and no woman is an island and asking for help is a sign of strength -go solidarity!, then BAM, just like that, you have Done. Something. Wrong. Now you are the needy, offensive ingrate. Salt. Wound. Youch.
We would sooner set up a shack in the woods, far, far away from all the people. Grizzly Adams that shit. Just us, the bears, who will look at us as an enemy, or a strange adapted species of harmless ‘lesser bear’, or DINNER, but ALL infinitely better options than being seen as or S/HE WHO PUTS OUT HER FRIENDS AND FAMILY or SHE WHO DOES NOT PAY HER BILL ON TIME, or S/HE WHO LIVES IN A DREAM WORLD AND WILL NEVER EVER MAKE THE THING HAPPEN, aka s/he who demands, expects, takes, falls short, needs help and then is oh so imperfect in her execution of all the gross awful needing.
It’s a cocktail of vulnerability and judgment. We trust someone to help and end up feeling the very thing we were scared to feel in the first place. Like a bad kid. Sent to the corner.
Which makes us want to UNDO every small act of help we have ever received from anyone ever. To put 763,000 units of distance between us and being seen as EXPECTING, or TAKING.
And it usually happens around those things that are already SUPER hard to be vulnerable about. Where we open ourselves up and TAKE A RISK, and then Noooooooooooooooooooooo! But YES.
So we find ourselves wanting to SHOW them, not by attacking them, or hurting them, or judging them or defending ourselves, because we can do better than that child’s play. We want to show them by simultaneously, NOT needing them, and retroactively UN-NEEDING them, and pretty much un-needing all received help and general dependency on humans from time immemorial, unless you can go back farther than that, then, DEFINITELY that far. But then also multiplied to the power of ten.
AND, it’s worse when our implicat-or is someone whom we love and who is generally kind. Because we can’t even say horrible nasty things about their character. We have to be like, I know he doesn’t mean it. He’s just under stress. Or some acknowledgment of the general goodness, before the eff-off-ness, which then gets diluted by the whole goodness thing and ROAD BLOCKS our escape plan (aka cliff driving-off and woods hibernating and un-needing).
So why don’t we? Drive off the cliff? Hibernate? Take any manner of extreme, face saving escapes? Because it’s healthy to have connection and meaning and blah blah kumbaya blah?. NO!
The reason that I don’t is – children. Because what they need is, every second of every moment of every day, in direct CONFLICT with my basic human dignity. With how I appear to the world. With my basic right to SAVE FACE, by sacrificing whatever thing I was gonna get help with, and choose doing without over being seen as hurtful, greedy, selfish, weak, ineffectual, unsuccessful, demanding, unfair, pick your poison. Going without, for me, typically means the kids doing without, and since that feels, actually, believe it or not LESS GOOD than all of the shame, embarrassment and trauma of being scrutinized, misunderstood and judged harshly, well DAMN IT IF I DON’T watch that face saving convertible squeal on by, without hopping on.
Whatever your reason for not retaliating (perhaps you are packed for your forest pilgrimage and leave at dawn with no forwarding address, or perhaps like me, you are handcuffed to someone you love too much to get thrown under the bus with) I want to say:
I SEE YOU.
Vulnerability is hard.
Asking for and accepting help when you feel vulnerable is harder.
And being judged for it is a very special kind of hell, reserved for the those who were “dumb” enough to be vulnerable in the first place (by dumb I mean brave, obviously).
The only way out of that terrible, SUCKAGE, is not at the bottom of the cliff, in the glorious moment when the authorities have been outsmarted and you may be dead, but hello, you have delivered the ultimate FACE SAVING EFF YOU, to your judgers. It’s not deep in an untouchable moss laden bear cave in SIBERIA. Poetic justice is a myth. Deep, guttural sigh.
Nope. You gotta sit with your l’il ol self and and say to yourself “I hereby don’t judge you as all of the things that feel so yucky. I see your integrity, and your good reason for asking for help, and your good intentions, and your capability. I override all those dumb ideas about you. I don’t choose them.”
Because when you stop judging yourself, the Achilles Heel, the tender flesh that we create the army of protection around, is suddenly safe.
Turns out, that it’s our judgement against our tender little selves, that sets this whole ball rolling in the first place. And at the end of our self forgiveness, is a pot of gold, containing a ticket outa hell, and some Smarties.
And I’ll be there, setting up my blankie fort, if you wanna join me. There’s room.
P.S. Thank you so much for reading! I will do my best to reply to all of your replies personally, just be patient with me as it may take some time. You can find out more of what I have going on at my website.
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P.P.P.S. The beautiful photograph at the head of this blog post is by Kristen Butler Photography.