What a strange word it becomes when you hear it and see it dozens of times in a month. And when it comes with strings. Not intentionally and not manipulatively but even the benevolently intended offers have consequences.
Things like “If you decide you want to talk to a professional I’d find the money.” The second thing that makes that a loaded statement is obvious, “Find” implies that the money isn’t there but if I feel like being more of a burden I have the option. But the first and more insidious thing I see in all the offers of help I’ve gotten is about the decision, about the asking, about “If”.
If I need anything, If I want someone to come hang out, if I want therapy. The implication is that they’d prefer not to do anything, and of course they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing so they put the decision on me. It’s something thought about all my life, how am I supposed to know if this time I need real help? If I’m aware enough to ask for help then I’m aware enough to help myself. And the inverse is that if I was completely hopeless and needed outside help I’d be too hopeless to ask for it.
So as I’m feeling like a useless emotional and financial burden people like to let me know I can choose to be more of an emotional and financial burden if I just ask. Like a group of people standing on shore offering to help me swim if I’ll just swim over to them first.
It’s surprisingly uncomforting.
I know there’s no clear way to cope when someone else is in crisis. And everyone is doing what they think is best. Whether it’s pretending nothing is wrong, telling me they know deep down I’m okay, (which is insulting and dangerous but it’s what they want to be true so they say it in hope it becomes true), or by standing by with offers of “Help” but no one is swimming over to see it from my side.
As far as I have insight right now what I need is unconditional, uncontextual, trustworthy, friendship. I appreciate the few people who have been giving me that.
Because the fact is you can’t help me. I don’t know where I’m going. I know where I don’t want to go – a medicated drone plowing through a meaningless life – but other than that I’m as lost as you as to what it would actually mean to help me.