Someone else with a little distance might say my motives are egocentric. And I admit, I do sometimes have a bit of a Jesus complex. I forget that my super powers are limited to deep caring. For real, sustained healing the people I love and want to "fix" need to call on the Divine. At the risk of sounding like it's all about "me," I've had to come face to face with my limitations. It makes me a tad anxious.
I've heard it said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Maybe my discomfort makes me a prime candidate to learn some things about myself.
A recent O Magazine article* might have been written with me in mind (hmmm, a little more ego, cause Martha Beck doesn't know me from anyone).
"Want to become a spirit-lifting, mood elevating, cheer-engineering dynamo?" is the headline that caught my eye. "Want to be?" I retorted to myself. Dynamo is my middle name.
The article goes on to list 7 ways to make someone else's day (without getting up, i.e. without losing yourself). #5, "Stop worrying about everyone," hit a bit too close to home for me.
What? Me worry?
According to Beck, "love and worry are not the same thing. Think of someone you're worried about. Now replace worry with something else: creativity, perhaps or singing or sudoku. It will truly make that person's day."
I think her point is this. It's hard to be sick ... Cancer sick. The last thing the person with cancer wants to do is wonder how to keep loved ones from worrying. Let's face it, lying in a hospital bed surrounded by people (husband, son and mother are excluded from this scenario) wringing their hands, and begging to do something - can I fluff your pillows? pour you some water? make your dinner? - is stressful. What a sick person does NOT need is more stress.
On a similar note, I remember after my father died, that people didn't know what to say to me. I found myself trying to comfort them. It's hard to know what to say to someone after a loved one has passed away. It's hard to know what to say to aperson who is facing life and death situations and feels like shit on top of it. Perhaps something as simple as, I'm here, is better than another pasta casserole.
I read an LA Times article (on FB) about supporting a friend through a crisis. Here's the first paragraph
"When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan's colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn't feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague's response? "This isn't just about you.""It's not?" Susan wondered. "My breast cancer is not about me? It's about you?""