Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the way i see it: you show up (no matter what).


Don't stop reading because I'm beginning with a Sex and the City quote, but...
Carrie: Will we still be friends when we're this old?
Miranda: Sure.
Carrie: What do you mean "sure"? l could barely get us together for the weekend and we're all mobile!...How are we gonna make it to 70 if you've already zoned me out?
Miranda: l'm listening. Talk fast.
Carrie: Friendships don't magically last 40 years. You have to invest in them. lt's like savings. You don't expect to wake up when you're old and find a big bucket of money. My point is, we need an emotional retirement plan. This is important, making time for each other and taking trips like this. As we can see, at the end of the line, it's gonna be us ladies riding a bus.

Near the end of the night, my coworkers and I were discussing--among many topics--the real, true importance of having friends to vent to when things in life are rough. I was surprised to hear them state a concept I had tried to articulate before, but to no success: "I don't need someone to fix my problems or tell me exactly what to do. I just need someone to be there."

That concept of "being there," of "showing up" when the time calls for it. I always thought it was intuitive--a friend needs you, so you're there. That's what I was always taught, but maybe there was a part missing: don't get taken advantage of either. I learned this from my mom, but sadly the hard way. My mother, the most caring and wonderful person I know, always showed up when people needed her. She made sure she was always there. She's reliable, dependable, and she always tries to do her best because she loves people--that's just who she is.

And she would never tell me this (because I think it hurt her a lot), but my dad told me that somebody whom she loved made a comment about the fact that she never got a four-year college degree. The context is a long story, but the basic fact is that somebody my mom was trying to help was frustrated about something, and basically called her stupid in front of a lot of people.

Which infuriates me, but that's another story for another time. The point is: despite all that, I think that my mom would still show up for those people, no matter how hurt she is, because she's never been the kind of person to make her life about herself; she's spent her life nurturing and loving people, and doing her best to lift them higher when they fall.

I've been wrestling with this idea lately, though, because in all of my attempts to show up for others, I hadn't really sat back and wondered if those same people would show up for me. Over the last few months, I'm afraid I've gotten my answer, and so I'm learning to set the boundaries I guess is necessary to make sure I don't end up spent.

But I think, at the end of the day, I am my mother's daughter: I would still show up for the people I care about. I don't like cutting people out of my life, and so I almost never do it. Maybe that makes me weak, but if I could spend my days nurturing and loving people, and doing my best to lift them higher when they fall...well, I think it would be worth it.

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