Just about a year ago, Beth wrote an entry to Grace concerning
a particularly harrowing night Grace had. I have never forgotten it,
nor have I been able to properly express what it meant to me.
This one is for you, to let you know you are not alone, and I
hope it offers a fraction of the
comfort that your entry gave me.
I have to admit, after first reading what you wrote to your
notify list, I was surprised,
even shocked. You and I didn't get to spend a lot of time
together the weekend
we met, but I was almost instantly envious of how confident and
collected you appeared. I saw you in your element that weekend,
the theatre, where I know you were frustrated, but also enlivened
and energized by what you were accomplishing. I also saw you
as a gracious and entertaining hostess, something I think is also
your element, as it is mine: surrounded by friends and family,
laughing and playing and venting and bonding.
I didn't see your deeper loneliness then, but I should have, because I
share it. And looking back, I recognize it in your entry to me
a year ago.
We are so very alike this way. I think we are both people who have
an innate sense of other's needs, and we cannot rest until we offer
help, support, and love in an attempt to satisfy them. Most of the
time, I like to think it works, and we succeed. Our loved ones
we give, and they feel better, and we feel better. People grow to
depend on us for it.
They are upset when we aren't there for them, and that kills us.
We feel guilty, as though we have failed them. Sometimes, we may even
get our feelings hurt when our offers
are, for whatever reason, rejected. We are endlessly reaching
And suddenly we realize that no one reaches back for us.
They don't understand that sometimes, just every
once in a while, we have
the very same needs we jump to relieve in others. They cannot imagine
us as the ones who need an ear, a shoulder. They don't pick up on
the same signs that we are so sensitive to in them. When we are bold enough
to ask for it, right out loud, we are dismissed as though it is
that we, the rocks, could ever be fragile enough to crumble just as
We may even have felt resentment directed at us for daring
to shed light on that fragility. That part of us is an unknown, a third
eye on our foreheads, something we have worked hard to keep hidden,
and it is too shocking to those who depend on us when we finally have
the courage to expose the flaw. No one seems to know what to do
with it. It puzzles them and scares them. Sometimes they even run
from it. So we rush to cover it up again.
I wish I had the answer, Mel, but I don't. I don't know how to break
out of the role I've created for myself my entire adult life. I don't
know how to let go of the feeling that what I need doesn't count,
doesn't matter, so long as I can be there for someone who needs me.
I can't escape the horrifying thought that I might
let others down if I admit that I'm not the rock they thought I was.
If I admit that even I am vulnerable and insecure and afraid.
What is amazingly ironic is what I have found here, through
this medium. I have found people (yourself, for example) who can
see through the front, the solid, comforting exterior, to the
young woman who is afraid to ask for what she needs, afraid to
she even has those needs in the first place. I am eternally
grateful for the kindness and sensitivity of my readers, but until they
all move next door, it cannot fulfill what I search for
in my day-to-day life. It may be presumptuous of me -- this whole
entry may be presumptuous of me -- but I think that's true for
both of us.
However, what I also think is true for both of us is that we're
learning. As 28 and soon-to-be 28-year-olds, I don't think it's
too late to reconstruct the role we've spent years enveloping ourselves
in. We do not need to abandon our instinct, the one that makes us reach
out to those who need us, because to do so would deny something that
is an essential part of who we are.
But we will figure out how to get what we
give. We will learn how to ask others to help us
carry our burdens in such a way that eventually,
we will not need to ask. We will get there.
Of this I am most certain.