I was going to write some happy words about our upcoming anniversary, but I’ve decided that despite my gratitude to you all, that’s going to have to wait until next week.
In the last few weeks, some women (and a few men) that I love very much have been going through some pretty heavy shit. Some have talked about it openly, some carefully, some not at all.
And to them I want to say: you are loved. You are seen; I am here with you.
I recently listened to an interview with Alison Gopnik on the Ezra Klein Show. It’s a wide-ranging interview about childhood development and humanity in general; definitely worth the time. But one of the more profound things I got out of it was the idea that allowing others to care for you is an act of love. We go through our lives trying very hard to not “be a burden” to those around us; but we depend on those social ties that come with providing care. Love is grown and nurtured through the act of care. You will be more loved if you are willing to allow others to care for you, to be that “burden.” It allows relationships to deepen.
I admit, I am not good at this either. Raise your hand if you’ve heard me say one of these things: I’m fine. It doesn’t matter. I can handle it. It is what it is.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of clamping down and plowing through. Looking back at those times, I can see where this was a mistake, and I can see how much better it was the times I let friends support me. Two quick stories:
Story 1 (the parable one)
About 10 years ago, I was trail running at Green Lakes during the off season when I tripped over a rock and broke my foot. I was about a mile from my car and didn’t have my phone with me (before you say it: that was the last time I left it). There was no one around to flag down for help, and no one knew I was in the woods. There was nothing to do but put my head down and trudge back to my car. The further I went, the worse the pain was, until all I could do was focus on putting one foot in front of the other and getting back to the parking lot. After what seemed like an hour, I made it to the disc golf field where one small group of men were playing. They turned and looked at me but didn’t offer any assistance. Today, I am 100% certain that if I had asked them for help they would have called an ambulance for me an waited with me until it arrived. But I didn’t ask: I was so wrapped up in my own hurt, I could only focus on pushing forward.
Story 2 (the literal one)
I got divorced in 2008. There’s nothing exceptional or exciting about my divorce; after 10 years together, we couldn’t make it work. But at the time it was a life-altering event: the most painful, traumatic and terrifying thing I had gone through to that point. I didn’t want to talk about it, certainly not at work. However, word got around, as it always does, and a surprising thing happened. I found out that I had a whole network of people waiting to catch me that I didn’t know existed. There was always someone ready with a cookie, a hug, or a dirty joke. I found out I had friends I didn’t know.
Several thousand people are going to read this message, including some of the women I mentioned above. Obviously, I can’t be this person for everyone who reads this, but there are those around you who can. Whether you don’t want to be a bother to others, or are embarrassed, or any other reason you haven’t turned to your community, I promise you, if you crack open that door, there will be someone on the other side waiting to comfort and support you.