We all fall and are all helped back up again. We have all helped others, but what we do not often consider is that to be in a position to help others is a privilege in a world where over half the population has not enough to eat all of the time or some of the time. Many of us realize that giving feels good and that it is truly better to give than to receive. Being the recipient of help can make us feel vulnerable.
Before I can write about a specific event and time when I was helped, I need to write about my notions around being helped because I am not at ease with being helped and my relationship with this entire concept is complicated.
When we are young, being helped, nurtured, is natural and desirable. The person who helped me most in my life has been my mother and I cannot write this without acknowledging that she gave much of herself to me. I can never repay her but only hope that I am living my life in away that she would find meaningful.
As I get older, I realize I hate been helped. I loathe needing help and see it as a mark of weakness. While I understand that some people like helping, need to feel needed, I make it a point to refuse help.
I am supposed to be the helper--the privileged one and not the one in need--the vulnerable one. Asking for help is almost impossible for me. The notion of being helped is a thorny one at best for me and brings up inner turmoil and cognitive dissonance. I wrestle with this everyday because while I do not want to help, I need help.
I am shattering. My bones break easily and I am still recovering from a hip fracture that occured 5 years ago. Don't get me wrong. I have some good periods during this time when I thought my hip had finally healed, but 5 surgeries and 2 recent dislocations later, I see healing as journey.
As I write this, my leg is in a splint. My prosthetic hip has dislocated twice recently. I barely managed to deal with the pain and while I think I could tolerate another round of it, it would be a an enormous challenge to tolerate another surgery which is what will happen if I dislocate this hip again. Obviously, I have been helped many times and need help at this point in my life. Perhaps what is less apparent is that I will be helpful many times again.
I am passionate about helping even though I am quickly passing middle age. I believe that I have helped as an educator and dog rescue. All of my random acts of kindness must count for something. No matter how "shattered" I become, I want to help, I need to help, I will help.
I never felt gratitude, profound gratitude until I was in my 40's. This was after I broke my first hip. Do not misunderstand me,I have felt appreciative and thankful, but to feel gratitude sweep over me and occupy all of my being was perhaps the most extraordinary feeling I have ever felt.
It was Good Friday when gratitude payed me a visit. All through the late winter, I struggled with my broken hip.
First, there was surgery. I always equated surgery with death. All my life, I had been dreading needing it.
Next, I spent 2 months on crutches, unable to put any weight on my leg. I tripped a little once and the pain tore through my leg, reminding me how fragile it was.
My foot would swell and turn blue. I thought this meant that I had a blood clot and would lose my foot.
I was scared during this period of time and did not understand illness. Having been spared from the agony of pain and sickness, my imagination spat out convincing and dreadful fates that were, oh, so close.
Emotionally, I felt that I had broken on the operating table. I left surgery with screws and a plate in my femur which pierced into my emotional being. It was as if my spirit had been cut into on that operating table.
Shortly after surgery, I learned that my bones were fragile. I had osteopenia which would most likely morph into osteoporosis given my age. More fractures possibly lay ahead.
I resolved to fight back and fight I did. I never resolved to ask for as little help as possible. It was not an option. I lived alone and cared for myself. I prided myself on taking little from others. People did offer to help and people helped but I felt that I could not ask for too much from others.
Oddly enough, I could ask for help from my relatives. Although they were few in number and did not live nearby. My mother wanted to help badly at this time but could not because she was severely disabled at this point. It must have been hard for her to watch me suffer. She probably never realized how much she helped by being the sympathetic listener who was there whenever I needed to talk.
I was afraid that I would be disabled, too. I had fallen in love with running and wanted to run again. I envied people who I saw walking.
At the same time, I felt conflicted because I understood that there are people who are worse off than I was. There are people who will never walk, yet alone run.
I guess it is natural to hope for the best for ourselves.
I worked really hard in physiotherapy. Most of the time, I would do twice the work the physio suggested.
Someone did help me. I knew on Good Friday that my leg would be fine. I walked on the beach without a cane. I felt joyful but most of all I had this wonderful sense of gratitude.
I was grateful that my leg would heal and this feeling so intensely richl. It was love for forces greater than myself that work wonders. Twice blessed, I found myself for I was healing and I could feel the magnitude of what it is like to be genuinely grateful.
I carry that feeling with me even today and while I have since broken my other hip and had 5 surgeries on it, not to mention a few other injuries, I know I am fortunate and feel thankful for all that is wonderful and right about my life.
I will fall again and be picked up, but most of all, I will help.