“I just don’t want to make people worry… I don’t want to be a burden to them.”
My friend B. is that giggly ball of energy who is always happy to see you. I’d compare her to a puppy, but she’s cuter and actually smells good. She is also a person. She is real. So, like the rest of us, she has things going on. Far from coincidence, they are a lot of the same things I have shared here. (You know… the wrestling.) So when she shared the above statement with me, I wasn’t surprised. There are lots of reasons for keeping your issues to yourself. She was echoing one I hear in myself, and from others.
The idea that we could possibly avoid burdening one another is… well, it’s ridiculous. It is absolute fallacy that we could keep our concerns and trials from affecting one another. Even if you don’t say it out loud, if a person knows you at all, they can tell when you’re having one of those days.
“What’s going on in my life is already your concern; by dint of the baptism that made me your sister, my joys are your joys, and my crises are your crises.” Yes, I’m quoting Lauren Winner again. The lady is a mess, but she’s an honest one (and a damn good writer). That’s what I’m aiming for and what I want others to aim for: honesty. Vulnerability. (The good writing part is optional, but it will make me want to hang out with you more. See? Honesty.)
But about this “burdening”, here is what I told B.
Have you ever seen a video of human heart cells? Each one pulses at its own rate until they connect; then they instantly pulse in unison. Each individual cell pulsing in unison is what makes the heart pump. It is the core of what keeps you alive. When one single cell becomes weak and fails, it throws everything off. That can happen during a heart attack, and it can be deadly.
It is not a bad thing to be others-focused, but it cannot come at the expense of your own health, emotional or otherwise. We don’t work that way. Keeping yourself healthy isn’t a selfish thing. In the bigger picture of a community, making sure that you are functioning well is the best way to give well to others. My own well-being isn’t my first priority, but it does matter for the good of the ones to whom I can give. If I sit and suffer, how can I serve?
When I stopped sitting and suffering (read: moved to Manhattan), I feared exactly what B. expressed: giving my friends too much of my s*** to carry. But then B. was here too, and I realized: maybe I had come back just for her and a few others, because of what they needed. I have loved this because I love them. And as for my burdens, my friends have taken it, and they haven’t looked back, haven’t complained, haven’t asked for anything in return.
My #nerdygirlroommate has gone above & beyond in this: not only did she take me in like the sad, homeless, missionless missionary that I was just a short month ago, she tells me all the time that she’s happy I’m here. When I try to express any gratitude in weak words or washed dishes, she assures me that this living arrangement has helped her, too.
And here is where it comes full circle: none of us can do this on our own. Love is a crazy thing that grows the more you give it away. Tell them what you need, they can give to you. When you know what they need, you give to them. And with so much less effort, we all do more than survive. We thrive and we love. We carry things together. We have to.