Monday, August 27, 2007

A wonderful gift

So many friends and relatives have been really super in their efforts to reach out and offer help. I haven’t mentioned it here because everyone’s desire and ability to help is different. It’s a very personal thing. And it can become awkward on either side of the transaction. I for one find “help” very difficult to talk about.

I related a story to a friend recently:

I was about six years old and the family was seated at the dinner table. My younger sister walked in, proudly showing off a bunch of grapes that a neighbor had given her. There was a lot of competitiveness between my sister and me, and I was brash enough then to figure if she deserved grapes, then I deserved some too. I rose from my seat.

“Where are you going?” my father bellowed.

“To get some grapes,” I walked into the trap innocently.

“Sit down! We don’t ask for things.” my father reprimanded.

Not long after that, I had a dream. My sister and I were playing with a friend. My mother called the other two into the kitchen and offered them popcorn balls. They weren’t shy about showing off their haul when they came back to me. I was annoyed when I stomped into the kitchen and asked, “Where’s mine?”

“You didn’t make your bed this morning, so I can’t give you any,” my mother rationalized. “Your father works hard to earn those popcorn balls,” she added, reinforcing the notion that I had to work hard for whatever I got and I sure didn’t deserve handouts.

The lessons were ingrained early. And to this day, I struggle with issues of self-worth and deservedness.

I’ve mentioned before in this account that I’m way outside my comfort zone in lots of ways this summer. One of those ways is how people have generously offered time and things to ease my suffering and help me get back on track. My initial reaction, at least internally, is always: “But I don’t deserve it.” And sometimes the offers, combined with limited energy, have made me cranky and guilty.

On the other hand, my friends have done some incredible things.

My relationship with my sister, for example, has finally grown close and loving and accepting, after years of being dominated by competitiveness and caution.

Others who I’ve lost touch with over the years have returned to extend emotional and financial support, most notably my father’s sister, a dear aunt who was always supportive while I was growing up.

One friend championed my cause and raised funds for me from other friends, knowing I couldn’t dream of asking for money for myself!

Some have offered social opportunities. Others have helped me make decisions about organizing my accounts and affairs and business dealings. Another has agreed to take over writing my magazine column until I feel up to taking it back.

And the other day, I got a wonderful gift from my friends in the computer community I frequent. After my most recent scan, I spoke with my doctor about my schedule, and got clearance to attend a conference in October that some of my friends are running. They were so happy to hear from me when I called to register. They hadn’t known how to broach the subject, but had decided that if I was able to attend the conference, they would pick up my fees.

So many friends…. So many things to be grateful for….


Dan Freeman said...

Yay! You'll be there!

You'll be able to collect that hug I've been promising! ;-)

Ceil said...

Yup! Good to go. And looking forward to lots of hugs!