I have a wonderful friend who obtains much of her identity from being needed. She cares for her mom, her two brothers and anyone within a mile radius who needs any type of assistance.
So of course, when I broke this damn ankle, she was one of many friends who rallied and ensured I was comfortable and fed while home alone and disabled. She offered to sleep over. She offered to visit my home daily. Heart of gold, I tell ya.
But someone was going to have to stop that train…
She seemed perplexed at first when I explained that I’ll do my own laundry. I’ll clean my own pool. But thank you so much for the kind offer.
One does not reject offerings of help with anything but love…
I wasn’t sure how I’d actually do my own laundry and clean my own pool. But I knew that if I didn’t find a way of living my life with some shred of independence and dignity, a stupid broken ankle will be the one stupid thing that broke me.
My friend looked at me with concern and said: You’re intensely aware of your independence. I got the idea she didn’t really mean it as a compliment. Other friends too indicated a desire for me to…just freaking chill and let us help you…
Tonight, as I was dropping sweat like a Kardashian dropping selfies trying to iron my clothes and linen, a thought came to me (as is the tendency when I iron. I think it’s like emptying your bowels just before you die).
Yes, I’m fiercely independent and, yes, I recognize this sometimes frustrates my loved ones. But when, exactly, did I have a choice in the matter?
I’m independent because I’ve had to become independent. I’d have loved to enjoy the type of childhood where my mom’s happiness, my dad’s sobriety, my brother’s mental health, and the reputation of our family did not depend on me. I’d have loved to be able to come home after school and tell my mom of all the kids who bullied and mocked me without it upsetting her so much that I hated myself for contributing to my mom’s already rocky road of unhappiness.
As a child and young person I’ve always just had to deal with my own emotions and disappointments without making it anyone else’s problem. Everyone else had their own problems…
For a short moment I thought my uncompromising independence would wane in the bright sunlight cast my someone I came to love. But when death took him too, the sun set on that hope. And the older I became, the harder it was to ask for help because as much as my friends would want to help out, they too struggle with difficulties and I’ve learnt not to add to burdens.
So you learn to do it yourself.
Like I learnt to retile my bathroom floor by myself.
Or learnt to repair cracks in walls and repaint the house.
Or learnt to fix a bright green swimming pool.
Or assisting a giant rain spider in exiting your residence without setting the entire premises on fire.
So yeah. Where was my choice?
In the interests of completeness: I DID manage to do my laundry and clean the pool, thank you kindly.
I’m going to bed without chococino. It’s too much damn effort after the bloody ironing.