Wednesday, November 07, 2007

you have to wonder

I was reminded of it last night. That every single day I get asked for help. And I am not even on the front lines anymore. It was worse then. Dozens of times a day, from the mundane needing to use the phone or needing some formula for your baby to the desperate having no place to sleep. Every single day. Help.

Yesterday a woman called me, freshly battered by her husband. Three kids and nowhere to go. Help. A colleague called. She'd found a homeless man with an eight week old baby. Mom split. He holds him like a football she said. They have no place to sleep. Help.

Every day I am asked for help. For ten years and counting. Help. Need. Help. Today I will get asked for help.

You have to wonder what that does to a person, running across all this pain. What it does to one's soul. And no wonder I often think everything is fucked. Or not. Sometimes it's beautiful, all this suffering. Help.

I forget to notice until I remember. I remembered last night. I felt it deeply for the first time in a long time. It's my job. All this help. I'm not complaining, just wondering. Lots of us go through this. Doctors, every 15 minutes. Teachers, non-stop.


How do you get asked for help?

Speaking of, it's the last day to send me your Just Posts. Our Roundtable is coming up. Send them to me at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom. Help.

34 comments:

Suz said...

I get asked for help, but the stakes are so, so, much lower. Help me with the computer program? Why are my pages not formatting? Help me fix this assignment? Failure to help, for one reason or another, isn't a good thing, but it's not life threatening either.

slouching mom said...

Yes. It can get to be almost soul-crushing. That's why I worry about you sometimes, jen. People in the helping professions have astronomically high rates of substance abuse, depression, and the like.

It is a weight. It is a beautiful thing, to be able to help another human being, or, luckier still, many other human beings, but there's no denying that it's a weight.

deb said...

I deal with people's fears when I go to work, fear of cancer, fear of dying, fear of illness. I hold a hand, I listen, sometimes I cry, sometimes I tell a joke, sometimes it's too much and sometimes I feel blessed that I can share people's lives with them.

Beck said...

Mostly I get asked for help in little wee things - can I watch someone's toddler? How do I cook salmon? can I type up the church newsletter (which I'm supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW)?
The big soul searing stuff I leave to braver people, like you.

Christine said...

sometimes i feel like people always want a piece of the Libra me--solve problems, listen to woes, do them a favor. . .but reading this made me realize how these simple requests for help are just that--simple. they are the requests of the lucky and i should be happy to oblige instead of bitter and run down by it.

i know you don't like it when people say this, but you are a wonderful woman with such a gift. remember to pamper yourself sometimes, if you can.

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QT said...

I get asked for help with decision that are completely monetary ~ can I retire? Can I buy a new car? Can I start a college fund for my grandchild?

It all seems to pale in comparison. But I have been on the other end, the one asking for help, and it means so much when someone can do anything, no matter how small...

Julie Pippert said...

Jen, it must be so draining for you sometimes. (HUGS) You are so essential and yet, YOU are important, too.

Sometimes in my life I feel exhausted by all the need and requests. But often it's not the being Asked or the Doing that tires me out it's the Having to Say No or not being able to help.

Sometimes I can and I love those times.

Today a friend asked for an hour and a coffee. She needed an ear but also ideas for something her daughter is going through. I could help.

Actually, today has been a helping day. People have needed me and I have been able to be there. Thank goodness.

I haven't found a home for a homeless family but I was a friend to a friend in need, and again a friend to another friend in need.

Julie
Using My Words

Janet said...

I mostly get asked to reach high cupboards, tie shoelaces, brush teeth and figure out tricky math problems. It's not a burden at all; not even a little bit.

I'm grateful that there are generous, tireless souls out there, like you, doing what you do.

Amy Y said...

Like the others here, I'm asked for help for simple things... double knotting shoes, contributing to the Halloween party, cutting meat into bit size pieces... and occasionally my shoulders are needed for crying.

But thankfully there are folks like you in this cruel world who help with the really important things...

mamatulip said...

For me it's usually help tying shoes, reaching toys, washing hands. The fun stuff, in comparison.

You are a gem, Jen.

Karen Forest said...

I help those who don't know how to help themselves with tasks associated with losing someone....

filing insurance, fielding questions about social security death benefits, death certificate questions, etc.,

as well as holding hands, giving hugs, soothing words, and offering hope that the pain will ease....and offering my ears and my time until it does.

Joker The Lurcher said...

i know what you mean. i'm signed off with stress just now. i've sent you a link to my other blog - the asbo queen. its real stories from my job, told as fairy tale. take good care of your self...

alejna said...

I don't really help people much professionally, which is a point I feel guilty about sometimes. I've been a volunteer before, helping refugees resettle. That involved primarily language tutoring, but also help navigating forms and bills and such. Even that was only once a week. These days, I mostly I help people as a friend. I'm happy that my friends think of me as someone they can ask for help. (But I feel like I need to be vague about the ways in which I help them.)

I admire you so much for all the work you do, jen. Your work is so difficult, but so crucial. And the writing you do here means a lot, too.

flutter said...

I seem to be asking for help a lot more, which causes me no end of guilt.

crazymumma said...

Well, my kids ask for help all the time.

But from people other than family? Small things that friends just do for each other anyhow.

And not to say I am particularily good, but I see when a soul needs help, and I try and help in small and local ways to make as much of a difference as I can.

And shyte, I had forgotten about the just posts. Next month...ok?
But i'll put the buttons up on my post to send people your way.

Denguy said...

I get asked for help to tie shoes a lot. Yeah, that and to clean up spills.

Oh, I get asked for computer help, too.

KC said...

I get asked for help often but disguised at times in refusals, in ongoing drug use, in anger, in depression, in pride, and utter panic. But it all boils down to Help. Not everyone wants help from me though. Some just want someone to listen. Some want small things, reassurance. Some want to share good news. I don't think I could take Help all the time.

liv said...

I get asked fairly regularly for some kind of help. I seem to attract a community of seekers. I try to do what I think is best while maintaining boundaries.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sometimes the demands of motherhood wear me to a frazzle. You are mothering the whole world. That's a damn big job.

FENICLE said...

Homeless man with 8 week old baby...that in itself is gut wrenching.

I don't know how anyone, could tell another person who's in that situation, they can't help.

Hetha said...

I was a teacher for several years in a part of our state that is best characterized by generational systemic poverty. My job overwhelmed me to the point that I'd collapse every evening without the strength to carry my plate to the sink. I was born to do it and someday when Eboy is put back together I'll be going back. I think that this aspect of my personality is one of the reasons that I view the world much as you do.

thailandchani said...

I can't say I am asked to help that often but since I am someone who does well with the practical needs of others, I offer to help. That is my way of giving. As for emotional support, I'm not very good at that but am quite good at jumping into the fray when it comes down to finding practical resources for someone.

meno said...

This made me think of how often i get indirectly asked for help. I am supposed to divine what thew need is.

I think it's easier with the direct way.

The Expatriate Chef said...

Can I help you?

Other than the very demanding Mommy role with nearly all the child-raising duties, not so much.

Sometimes advice is requested, and I do my best to help. I was more help when my father was head injured, I was needed a lot then. I find myself wishing I were more help to others, then feeling guilty because I know I probably could be. I always thought I would do something meaningful with my work time.

Family Adventure said...

If I think about it, I don't get asked a lot to help. I help at my boys' school as much as I can. I do some helping in my profession, mentoring and the like. Familiar things, babysitting kids.

But my life is nothing like yours - you help where it really counts. The responsibility you have awes me. Frightens me, even. I don't know how much a heart can bear. How much can you see before it breaks you or numbs you?

Heidi

Mad Hatter said...

I get asked for help all the time. Library patrons usually don't know what kind of help they want or need and are often quite resistant to being helped by a librarian (you know, that sub-serviant, woman's profession). Undergrads can be so f-ing full of themselves sometimes. It can feel belittling at times. Other times, when I make a real connection I'm on top of the moon b/c I know that I have done my little bit for literacy and knowledge and open-mindedness.

As for you. More soul weeps for the everyday nature of your work.

Momish said...

As much as I get asked for help by people, my kid, my cat... nothing could compare to the life and death pleas you face daily. I don't know how you do it. I admire that you do it, and this post just makes me admire you more because it shows your humanness and limits. Yet, you keep doing it with grace and love, void of resentment.

Oh, The Joys said...

It is the agonizing balance between the priviledge and the pain of it.

painted maypole said...

you are privileged to get to HELP, and although you, I'm sure, take on some of that pain, helping to ease it is a gift to all those involved.

you HELP

ms chica said...

I've been wondering about this for a long time. Committing to help for the long haul, and the frustration of limited resources. There is so much need in the world, and so many agencies are saddled with the paper trail from hell to fillout while their hands are tied behind their backs.

You're the real thing.

Susanne said...

The way I'm asked for help isn't taxing like yours. As a teacher I can help people master things they would have struggled with on their own. It's a pleasure. Also, to be frank, it is an ego-boost. I'm always the one who knows. One has to be careful not to take that as the truth.

b*babbler said...

I can't even imagine how you cope with yoru days sometimes. It must be crushing in its weight of responsibility

I'm rarely asked for help these days, and sadly I miss it. I miss feeling useful (apart from the diaper changing/feeding/playing types of useful that I am to Peanut).

Kelly said...

What Beck said...

I'd get crushed, Jenn. I'd fall apart, first day on the job. Perhaps I'm underestimating myself, but I don't think so. That's why I thank God for the brave, like you, because me? I'm pretty much a coward who does her good deeds with a checkbook.