As Sophy climbed into my lap one more time this week (and she is not a small dog!) I found myself thinking: Don't we all wish, sometimes, that we had a lap to climb into where someone bigger would hold us and make all the problems of the world go away? But just as Sophy isn't really a lapdog, most of us aren't going to be able to find someone who can do that for us either. Which means that we must be the ones to create the lives we want to have and to look at how we want to be in this world NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS OR DOES.
That's both the scary thing and the empowering thing—we have both the ability and the responsibility to make choices about our lives. We have both the ability and the responsibility to choose what we will focus on. We also have both the ability and the responsibility to seek out advice and help when we need it—knowing that ultimately it is we who must choose how we do—or don't—apply that advice and help.
I found myself thinking about that this week as I have watched some friends panicking over the financial crisis. I couldn't help thinking they had waited perhaps too long to ask for advice that might have helped them avoid the personal financial crisis they are in now.
Not that I can point fingers. In fact, I suspect I'm noticing because it reminds me that for far too long I didn't dare let myself believe I needed anyone's advice or help. After all, I had learned early and well that there was no one I could trust better than myself when I was growing up. My family was too dysfunctional and no one outside the family to whom I went for help seemed capable of grasping what I tried to tell them or if they did the advice they gave only made things far worse. Heck, adults were coming to ME for advice—and screwier yet, they were taking it! So if I hadn't believed I could figure it all out myself, I think I would have given up. I would have figured there was no point in even trying. In other words, I'm like many survivors of abuse who grew up trusting only in myself and my own capabilities.
Oh, I learned early how to seek out people who would be somewhat nurturing toward me. But...ultimately I never trusted them to be smart enough to be of help. It took years, far longer than I wish it had, for me to get to the point where I risked asking for help or advice and listening to anyone. It didn't always work out well when I did, but ultimately being willing to try led me to the counselor who saved my life. With his help, I found a way to let go of the past and become who I am now.
There are still moments when I realize I'm pushing away resources that could be useful. There are still moments when I have to remind myself that not everything rests on my shoulders. And then I look at Sophy. As clever as she is, as much of a survivor as she has shown herself to be, her life is happier and more fun because she's willing to let me help her and be part of her life. She's safer because she lets me set boundaries and show her better things to eat than dead birds and bugs and leaves.
It is, as with everything, a question of balance. We cannot abdicate our responsibility for our own lives and at the same time we pay a very high price if we are not willing to listen when that's the appropriate thing to do. We don't need to—and shouldn't—blindly take the advice of others! It is our lives, after all. But we gain if we are willing to learn from others. Wouldn't it be a better world if everyone was?
Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),