Hurting to help

In order to nurture someone else, I have to become vulnerable, exposing myself to criticism, anger, and hurt.  Caring for someone else requires caring for myself, otherwise I hurt them by neglecting myself.  Believing in oneself in order to say “I can do better this time” is how we keep going, in spite of our anger at failing before.  Living with someone who is in mental anguish, or rage, or serious depression is taxing, as is living with those states of mind in your own head.

My depression has sprung from feeling unable to connect with others on a level I believe possible, even though the evidence is that people have been very attracted to me and I have been unaware of their caring.  My own barriers are what hold me in, my prison is of my own making.  My concern and love for others drives my obsession to help them, to do anything for them, yet I don’t feel the same way about myself.

Sometimes I think that I fear becoming greedy, or arrogant, if I take my own importance to be equal to others.  Other times, I am convinced that what I feel is the genetic urge to give my energy, my effort, to the group, the community.  At some level, I know that my existence is finite in this world, that I shall pass on.  But the community that I live in can continue, indefinitely, preserving the things that I have accomplished, the things that I have learned.

Something that I am a part of can continue after I am gone, something which is bigger than I am, something that gives my life meaning.  Existing only to take from others without contributing at all is beyond my imagination, and I fear that I will not be valued if I am not contributing.  Accepting my value to my community seems like taking something from it that I do not deserve.

Probably this stems from rejecting myself as a child, because I did not receive enough affirmation to convince me that I was important to the group, that I was valued.  My bodily needs were met, more or less, but my spirit was adrift, alone, without an anchor.  There were no adults that I felt a special relationship with, that I could confide in, or expect to give me their time.

The investment of time into our descendants is essential, especially for the elderly and the young.  The young need the complete attention of an elder, many times throughout the day, to develop a proper sense of self-esteem.  It may not be the same elder, but children need elders around who are willing to stop what they are doing and devote their time to the child.  This has been a central element of human society until the very recent past.

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