Liar, lies, lies
The song “Lies” by the Thompson Twins comes to mind every time someone offers to help me. It is not because I think all people are liars or that there aren’t any good people in the world. Instead it’s based upon past experiences. A perfect example happened years ago when my husband was offered a job in California. We had been living in our Arizona home for eight years. I began my fulltime battle with chronic pain just one year after moving there. Seven years went by without my having the energy to purge what we didn’t need let alone keep what we did need neatly organized. Just the thought of sorting, purging, and packing made my head spin. I had less than three weeks from the time I found us a place to live to having everything ready to move.
At a going away dinner I shared how overwhelmed I was and that I didn’t know how I was going to get everything done before moving day. I was stressed and exhausted from spending a month driving back and forth between CA and AZ to find us a new home. Because the new house wouldn’t be ready before my husband had to start working, he stayed in CA while I returned home to wrap things up. With my emotions all over the place I began to cry. As tears streamed down my face, two people who knew about my physical pain, offered to help. With limited time and energy I was not about to let my pride deprive me of the help I was desperately in need of. I accepted their offer and at least for the moment I felt like I could take a breath.
I have learned an important lesson in all my years of living in pain. That lesson is do not count on the person offering help UNLESS they are willing to schedule a time and date at the moment the offer is made. I have found that those who do set a date only flake out over real emergencies. But those who hesitate to set a date have never followed through.
So why do people offer help if they have no intention following through? Good question. I have noticed that group settings seem to bring out the “do good” personas. It looks and sounds good to say you want to help someone when there are people nearby. These people also love the attention they get from others who praise them for offering. I really wish some people would shut their traps and save the praise for what people have done, not what they say they are going to do. For some it is just that they are really busy and forget. That is why it is so important to agree on a time and date the moment the offer is made. Personally, I won’t nag someone who has offered to help. I don’t have the energy, nor do I want to hear excuses. You either want to help or you don’t.
This story ends with me packing the entire house by myself. Those who offered and promised to help never did. I had to leave a lot behind, because I was in too much pain to deal with sorting and packing in an organized manner. A lot more would have been left behind had my husband not been able to come home a few days before moving day. A few people stopped by on the day we were loading our moving truck, not to help, but to sit and try to chat while every muscle and bone in my body were crying out as I carried one box after another into the truck. That final day could have been much better had those who stopped by had helped us load the truck. The task would have been finished earlier and I could have enjoyed their company. But that is not what they wanted. Instead they made sure they could honestly tell others that they stopped by to see us on moving day. I hope the praise they received was worth hurting me. This story still makes me cry. I am not sad about the stuff I left behind. What hurts was/is having people offer to help during for me what was a physically challenging time, to only fail me. I know I shouldn’t be surprised because these same people have never really been there. They pretend to care, pretend to sympathize, and only say or do things in front of others for praise.
If you have a group of friends or family that helps you just because they love you, CHERISH THEM. I cherish mine! As time goes by and my pain grows, I have learned the difference between the helper and the attention seeker. To be honest I would be less annoyed if the attention they were seeking was from something they actually did.