There is someone that I dread running into.
Just dread it.
It’s not that she’s a horrible person, in fact, most people just love her. They speak of her kindness and her thoughtfulness and her care and concern for other people.
They suggest that there is a selflessness about her that they really admire.
I suppose that’s all true.
Of course I see all those things about her. Before I became disabled I admired them, thought I should be more like her. Now, I still think that in many ways I should be.
And it’s a big but.
It feels very different being on the other side of her warmth and caring. Whenever I come into a room, and she is there. She practically bowls Joe over so that she can be a help to me.
She inflicts care on me. I feel the intrusive nature, the needy nature of her actions. I’ll turn my head to talk to someone and when I turn back there will be a cup of tea, a bowl of soup, a piece of cake, shoved into my face. We almost always meet at parties and social gatherings and when she and her help are there, my stomach falls.
People often tell me that I’m very negative about people’s help and kindness. I don’t think I am. I do need help. I do need kindness. But I only need them at my own discretion, not when people decide that I have no personal agency. Websters defines this as ” the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power.” To decide when I need help, what I need help for, how that help with be delivered and how I am supposed to respond to help unrequested, makes me someone different, someone moulded into an object, a thing, like a teddy bear being fed, or not by the whims of a child not on the wishes of the bear.
Help asked for, help given in response of a need I identify, I am so grateful for, like the woman who responded when I needed something that was just out of my reach.
Like the staff at the gym who help me 5 or 6 times a visit when I ask for help with equipment, with turning machines accessible, with adjusting the grips on the cable machines.
I need help from strangers.
I get it.
But do you. Help unrequested is something very different. I’m the acted upon.
“She means well.”
But does she?
I’ve talked to her about it. Told her that if I ever need her help and she’s there I’ll ask her. She looks at me curiously.
Like a teddy bear that just spoke.