When I was 21 I went on an outward bound trip. Two days into that trip, I threw my back out, which resulted in the contents of my 60lb backpack having to be divvied out to each of the other people on the trip. Which meant about 10lbs extra of burden for all the people I was traveling with. It also meant that they were carrying that additional load for longer because hiking through dense woods and uneven terrain with my back out meant we were taking much longer than usual and traveling in the dark.
To say that experience was humbling is an understatement.
Had I been one of the other travelers, I would have happily taken on the extra load. I would have happily taken on the entire load (probably less happily as the day wore on... but still). That is where I'm most comfortable. I enjoy being a helper. It makes me feel most who I am. But somehow, my desire to be selfless and my ego got all twisted up together and put me in a place where I felt I could give help, but I didn't deserve to receive help. And therefor, shouldn't accept help if it were offered. And so I was given a situation wherein the choice was really removed. Die in the backwoods of North Carolina. Or accept help and get out.
On Friday, the entire contents of the home I've lived in for 15 years was moved out into my driveway and yard. And Saturday, yesterday, was the day that I had a yard sale to try and offload my furniture and anything else that anyone wanted. And being 7 days post surgery, and not cleared to lift anything over 10lbs, I had texted a couple of friends to help me out. I was trying really hard to not rely on those same friends who have been totally tapped out by my life this year. I really wanted to give them a break and let them deal with the business of their own lives instead of being interrupted by mine, yet again. So pre-arranged with some other, new people. Bribed them with food. Apologized profusely for my needs. Only, it became quickly apparent, on Friday, that I had underestimated the amount of work, and the tools needed. And so the friends I'd arranged called on their friends and before the day was done, the big stuff was out and priced and ready to go. And I, very naively, thought that I was in a good place to handle the rest on my own.
And as my day started at 6am, moving, sorting, pricing I stumbled across the guidebook that I'd been gifted 20 years previously from Outward Bound. And I remembered that trip and how hard that had been and I commended myself on how far I'd come and how I hadn't needed to shove any of the contents of my backpack onto my closest friends this time. I was standing there ready to handle this day on my own.
Oh how the universe has ways of showing us truth.
The sale started at 8am, and I'm not sure if you've ever had a yard sale before, but there is something very disconcerting when truly sketchy people show up to your property, before they're supposed to, when you've intentionally surrounded your entire property with a 30ft wall of bamboo so no one can see you from the street. And then when multiple sketchy people are there at the same time. It made me realize that I had misjudged again. This was not a situation that I should be handling alone. And I realized the magnitude of what was going down and the work that I still had ahead of me that day and I looked over at that damn guidebook. And with the same humility and frustration and upset towards myself I'd had 20 years ago as I watched as my things were pulled out of my backpack and put into the overflowing packs of others, I sent a text to my friends;
I need help.
And they showed up. Immediately. Even though they had major things going on for themselves. They lifted heavy things, they organized, made calls, held signs, loaded up trucks, moved more things, drove to goodwill, drove to the dump, turned into amazing sales people, and came up with plans of action when my exhausted brain just stopped. And by 4pm, the house was empty with only a few large items left out on the curb for free. The amount of work was insane. And the whole time I was just wondering how on earth I thought that I could do it alone.
And why do I keep trying to do that?
But that was what my marriage was. Do it alone. Do it all alone. There was an exhaustion to daily existence that permeated everything, because being alone and feeling alone are exhausting. A deep grief and sadness and unworthiness that I carried every day... even on the rare good ones. And to this day, he is still of the opinion that I am shit. That I did nothing during our marriage and that I do nothing still now. That I have no value. I am not worthy.
My point. Life is a never ending pattern. We are all running stories, some very unconsciously, that color our world and our decisions. And that's just what it is. 20 years later, same pattern... but there are MAJOR differences.
This time, I'm not flying back home to a situation wherein my feelings of unworthiness are echoed by the person I'm living with. Instead, I am surrounded by people who's actions show their goodness and my worthiness of it.
This time, I saw the need and humbled myself before breaking my back. And though the ideal situation would have been me arranging help at a time that would have allowed us all to plan, I'm sure next time, I'll remember this situation and when I'm sat there telling myself “don't bother them, do it yourself”, I'll have the opportunity to be more real with myself. And even though there is still a voice within me that is saying “there won't be a next time because I've learned this lesson once and for all”, the wisdom that comes with age assures me, of course there will be. And now I can say in response “and I'll handle it better next time”.
Not perfectly. But better.