Sunday, April 10, 2011

Depending on Others

This Sunday I'd like to talk some more about something I find very puzzling.

I wonder [and please, feel invited to answer in the comments!] - what came to mind when readers read the title of this post, "Depending on Others"?
Was it a positive or a negative? A fear? A puzzle, like it is for me...?

I don't have any answers, [as is usual for me,] mostly questions. How do we depend on others - objectively, whether we like it or not? How do we depend on others - as in, what is the way to do it ..? How is it done? How do we depend on others - as in, how do we bring ourselves to do so?

I have a feeling many of those who are recovering from eating disorders feel that 1) they [can] depend on others not at all, and/or 2) that they depend far too much on others. if i look at my own teenage years i see a very confusenik situation - on the one hand, i was being told you've got to reach out! At the same time, on the other, i think good lord, there is a young person totally incapable of providing her self any kind of acknowledgement of her own experience - she needs others to tell her that what she is doing, experiencing and feeling is not [or is] okay. She is totally, incapacitatingly dependent, and refusing to depend.

In a group therapy setting a girl describes a situation: she is making dinner with her girlfriend and she realises it's later than she thought it was, and she begins to get overwhelmed. She's overwhelmed about the cooking, she's getting inundated with emotions unrelated to the situation at hand, and she's at a loss, and her girlfriend is trying to help. "Would it help to splash water on your face?" "Would it help if we ate out instead?" "Would it help if I made dinner?" "I'm sorry I overwhelmed you."
She says, "I felt like a child. Like I was acting like a child, and she was having to view me as a child. I was just standing there denying that any of her suggestions could help, while at the same time looking to her to say the thing that was going to fix my distress." And so, she told her girlfriend you know what, i'm gonna go deal with this, and then I'll come back.
She went outside and ran around [note -this person does not have an eating disorder] and got out some of her energy, and calmed down. She came back in to where here girlfriend was cutting vegetables and they had a really good night together from then on - they were on a level, nobody was caretaking.

This was a really relateable experience, when I heard it. I thought, yes! that feeling of not being attended to, I admired her action and I thought it was probably something many could learn from.

But on the other hand, sometimes depending on others is not the problem...
I had a slip recently.
I came over to my friend's house and, well, I needed to not be all lighthearted because that was sending confusing messages to myself. I'd been lighthearted all day with other people, and it was as though some part of myself advocating for being in reality said, no, you gotta be real here. I said something about having something shitty on my mind. She said, trying to make it easy for me by cutting through my bullshit, "Well what happened? Go."
I said to her, "Well, except I don't know which this is. Is this the situation where you tell me not to only speak up about what's going on once I've got it all sorted? Or is this the situation where I'm not supposed to depend on other people?"
Well, she hasn't got a lot of patience, this one, and at this point I'd already made my decision by keeping myself from bullshitting. [you'll be interested to know that the spellcheck has no problem with "bullshitting" although it is protesting "lighthearted".]
After we talked about it for a bit she said, "I'm really glad you told me right away and didn't wait until you'd sorted it all out yourself."

We talked a little bit about how this is confusing for me, because I'm getting the message from one direction that I can't rely on others for acknowledgement, but at the same time, to be truthful, I feel like it's pretty significant for many people I know and for myself to even accept acknowledgement from others.

I lied - I do have a conclusion. I said it last week, but now I'll say it again: I think you have to be open to the fact that your experience IS understandable to others.
And then, you don't need them around to rescue you.
But you're not an alien thing in your own little world, either.
If you are willing to accept connection and help, just telling the damn truth to somebody not to be saved, but to be real, so that you can bravely be in reality and own your truth and acknowledge it...
well, I think that has huge power.

This week's song I just discovered. The beat annoyed me at first but it's growing on me, and it's a wicked bit of poetry - and check out that fiddle line!

I think it's about the fact that you won't get anywhere by dropping down that braid like a weight and waiting for somebody to climb up it. But if you sing out loud and clear, maybe you won't be alone anymore. Maybe you never needed to be alone. And maybe there's huge power in just knowing that you're heard and using that voice of yours, even in the moments when nobody is there to answer.

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