I’ve seen something circulating lately that says something like “if you see someone struggling don’t tell them to reach out, or tell them you’re there for them, just help, just show up, do something “. It really resonated with me.
As deep as my roots it goes back generations to be fiercely independent. A family of problem solvers and do it yourselfers and fixer uppers. Much to the frustration of my father (the one who is responsible for my inheritance, sorry dad) my husband and most other people in my life this trait means I’m most likely to take the hard way, tricky way, the do it myself way. I’m not likely to reach out. It’s very much the reason why I struggle with the weight of anxiety and depression nearly 2 years before reaching out for help. I found ways to manage, to make my way through.
I’ve learned since having children some times you have to lean in a little. I eat my own words because I’m forever telling my friends to do just this, but I’m terrible at it. Leaning in a little gives you just enough room to take a deep breath, re center and go back at the non stop life that is being a mom. A micro manager. Learning to lean means learning to expose a certain sense of vulnerability which I’ve never been good at. Once I attempted to go to a psychic and she even told me she couldn’t really read me because I shut myself off. I’ve spent years building walls and I’ve been spending years breaking them down. But I’ve learned to lean in ways I still feel secure and I can feel as if I’m not bothering anyone.
I’ve worked on communication, self awareness and self limiting beliefs to allow myself the space to lighten the load. It’s an arduous journey but I continue to march forward. So when this meme or quote starting circling I really liked it. When I’ve said to you what I’ve needed, what I’m feeling in my soul is missing even in a passing way it’s taken great courage and a lot of work to do so. If I’ve said these things and they don’t come received I find it frustrating. If you’ve offered something and don’t follow through the person isn’t going to have a solid foundation to lean in. If a person has leaned in and been left to sway in the wind the chances are they’re not going to lean in. It takes a lot for some people to lean and so for a lot of people they won’t lean in. Don’t expect a healing person to muster the energy to come to you and ask if what they need is evident. Even if they really want it they can’t always find the air to breath the request. If something or someone is important to you do them a solid and meet them where they are. Do the things you know they need, help them in ways they’ve asked for help. If you’ve offered your time, space, energy, assistance, whatever it may be then follow through. Make your offer authentic, I can guarantee you a person who is faltering will not come back to the person that has offered to help and ask for that help. They will walk away discouraged and disappointed for exposing their vulnerability and being met with unmet promises. They’ll lean not to lean in to you, they’ll withdrawl to find their own strength, yet again. If you wait for them to come to you, or you watch them struggle waiting for them to ask when they’ve identified their needs they’re not going to accept your help. Accepting help from someone who waits until you ask or waits to see you struggle is a place where you expectations feel unmet and resentment festers and once it does it takes a lot to reel it in. Add in the other mental load the person carries, other struggles they have, the lists they carry they aren’t too likely to see that person as a solid in their circle. If I need your help, if I’ve communicated what I need, even once I will not ask you to help me again. Unfortunately Leaning in isn’t easy for me, if I lean in and I’m left to solidify my stumble I’ll just do it myself.
Expectation is the root of most evil and when you’ve come to expect the least from the ones who you need it from the most you’ll gradually start to trim away the people who aren’t really there to lift you higher. If not, you should. The people who love you the most are the ones who are supposed to have your back to your face and behind your back. If that’s not the kind of circle you have, how can you make more room in your foundation for people that will be your bottom hands. As Dr. Jody says the rest don’t score. Lean in. Find the faults in your grounding and build the best of you. Lean in, check on your strong friends, check on that friend who’s always smoothing the wrinkles for everyone else. Hold the hand of the fixers and the doers. They may not know they need you. They may not know how to set their load down and allow someone else to carry. We’ve stepped so far away from community as a society that we often forget that it is not our job to leave others hanging in the balance. We’re tapped in and plugged in but we are more disconnected than we’ve ever been before. Reach out, lean in, learn to be vulnerable, learn to crack open someone else’s vulnerability. Say what you mean and mean what you say.