I’ve had a really hard day/week, so forgive me if this is scattered.
- You are drowning. It is obvious you are drowning. Everyone knows this.
- Someone offers to throw you a buoy. You accept.
- You say “go ahead – throw me the red buoy”
- They say “wait – what size buoy? why the red buoy? why exactly do you need it? who can substantiate that you need it? How do you plan to use it? The more I think about this, the more sure I am that I’ll have to talk to some others to verify you need that particular buoy. Let me think about this”
- You say “I told you – I need a red buoy NOW. I will catch it and use it to save my life”
- They respond “Now I’m in an awkward position. Are you going to climb into the buoy, or are you going to hang on the side? That makes a difference. And again, who can verify that you need a buoy, and that you need the red one? Because I heard that you might be having second thoughts about the buoy, so how do I know you really need it, and are going to use it appropriately? Maybe I should talk to someone else first. Why don’t you give me the number of a certified life guard so I can be sure.”
- By now you can barely breath. You keep slipping under the water and, as you lose oxygen, your ability to reason is diminished. You start to question yourself. Do I really need the red buoy? Maybe not. Maybe I need to blue one. And how am I going to use? Will I hang on one side or put it around my waist? Now I’m filled with doubt. Maybe I do need someone else to choose the proper buoy. Maybe I don’t really deserve a buoy, I should quietly skip under the surface and get it over with.
This is my current situation. Metaphorically, of course.
As I write this I’m watching Survivor. On this particular episode there is one woman trying to cross a balance beam in the water, and she just can’t do it. The challenge is over, the winning team is ready to accept their reward, and there she stands – left behind on the platform everyone else has long abandoned. She’s a loser. Alone. Lost. A failure.
Normally, the winners would go on to their reward and this 1 survivor would be left behind to get back to the beach alone. Tonight, several of her fellow competitors joined her. They decided it was important for her to finish this challenge. She needed to know that she could do it. She needed to save herself, and all she needed was a little help. So they gave it to her. They actually swam back to her and waited while she crossed the balance beam.
What’s interesting to me about this is that they didn’t have to do that. She wasn’t drowning. She didn’t ask them to help. She was overweight and the case could be made that she deserved what she got; it wasn’t their responsibility to “compensate” for her weaknesses.
Instead, they looked at her and understood how important it was for her to complete this task, and they took it upon themselves to help her. They didn’t question her. Their assistance was offered from their heart, and lo and behold, she crossed the balance beam.
When it was over, everyone felt good. Everyone WON. She won by finishing, they WON by helping her, and everyone was proud of the role they played.
Isn’t this how life is supposed to be? Especially when it comes to family.
When they are watching you drown …… why can’t they just throw a damned buoy?
Is this one more example of projection?
Let’s suppose that the “savior”, deep in their soul, feels undeserving of their position. Perhaps, in their heart of hearts, they know they would not have the plethora of buoys they have, had they been on their own. They understand, on some level, that they are not the masters of the universe they claim to be; they were given advantages others weren’t.
This is the only plausible explanation I can find for their behavior.
Why? Because if someone is drowning in front of me, I am going to do everything I can to save them. I’m not going to question them.
The only reason I can find for the difference in thinking is that there is something wrong with the one questioning the drowning person.
Could you watch a person drown and hesitate? Could you watch your child drowning and request they submit a request for assistance, in triplicate, with corroborating signatures?
Of course there is always the possibility that I am undeserving. If my own family won’t throw me a buoy without someone else’s recommendation, well…..what does that say about me? I’m stupid. I’m a poser – I pretend I need a buoy when I don’t. I over-react: I’m not actually going under right this minute, the buoy can wait.
I feel so lost. And alone. And betrayed. And scared.