Deep breaths. Last words I heard the anesthesiologist say to me shortly before I drifted off to la-la land for surgery. Anesthesia is the closest thing to time travel we have these days. One minute you’re in an operating room and the next? You hear your name through a fog, slowly clearer and clearer, until you’re wide awake and looking at the aftermath. I’ve had a few surgeries throughout my life and remember the fading off and waking up from each. Something cemented in my mind.
You listen to your discharge instructions, yeah, yeah, got it. The implication of “non-weight bearing,” only sunk in after I got home and realized the full scope. Particularly in light of the fact I can’t balance on my other leg. I had the uncomfortable feeling of being helpless. Not completely, but most definitely dependent on others. There’s only so much you can do when you’re told to not have your foot unelevated for more than five minutes at a time. Five minutes? Two of those today were spent brushing my teeth! Three more isn’t enough to do much of anything.
So, I have to ask for help. There’s something that happens when we ask for and receive help, for us and the other person. It’s disarming, neutralizing. Especially when the help is needed for physical assistance. Whatever baggage might exist between you and the other rapidly fades as you work together towards a common goal. If you had a conflict, it fades in favor of peaceful co-existence.
But why? If we can erase, or at least diminish, conflict with another person when they are helping us or visa-versa, why won’t it come sooner?
I don’t suppose to have the magical answer, but there’s a common interest, a shared humanity, when you’re in the situation to help someone. Particularly if you both lean in. Being in a position of needing help is a vulnerable place, one where the mere act of asking itself is courage. And when you’re meeting another person’s need for help when they’re in that vulnerable place, you see them differently.
You’ve moved in.
That’s when we see people. In the moments of vulnerability. No masks, no pretense. Raw. Open. Unguarded.
Which may not be what we normally see. We’ve been programmed to be tough, to handle our own challenges. So, when we can’t, it might be a different side of us than people are used to. It’s your authentic self showing up. But those can be the best moments. With someone you trust, sharing an experience.
What if we could recreate the feelings that arise when we’re helping or being helped in everyday life? If we could see people as their true self? Unmasked and leaning in. We’d find ourselves in deeper relationships and healing hurts that keep us apart. That’s where we’d find a miracle. One worth seeking in this journey of life we’re navigating through. Day by day. Moving in to closer relationship. You may not need the help I do right now, but please, let your authentic self be seen. It’s worth the risk. You can do it, your brave my friend, and we’re doing it together.