I used to write about my personal life on another blogging platform, but I don’t anymore. And I used to post ‘status updates’ on another non-anonymous social media platform, but I’ve deactivated my presence there now. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but one of them definitely is the tendency for people who weren’t asked for it offering me ‘advice’ and opinions about something I felt was positive and happy and dragging me down. Of course, they claimed at the time and will still claim they were only trying to help…they would NEVER try to drag me down, but I don’t trust that. I know sometimes it’s hard to read tone into text, but I usually can, and I’ve heard from multiple sources that I’m pretty good at conveying tone in text. People can normally tell when I’m being sarcastic or happy or anxious or whatever, based on my tone, and I will customarily clarify things I write that I think *might* be misinterpreted. I think the happiness and gratitude I feel when I write about my life with J or my son or my dog or my best friends is apparent. Frankly…I’m a sap and I know that and own it, so my happiness and gratitude almost literally oozes out of the things I write about those important parts of my life. So when someone comes at me unsolicited with, ‘That’s nice, but…’ I get pretty defensive. It definitely feels like that but and whatever comes after it are negating my happiness and gratitude. They are telling me I shouldn’t be content and relieved about whatever I wrote about. Especially when I’d write about J helping me with something or through something…particularly an anxiety episode or panic attack.
A condensed, edited, generalized version of a common event…
Me: <writes glowing prose and praise about J’s gentle, patient nature and his consistent presence and how they often calm me down and settle me when I’m panicking or made a busy or difficult situation easier with his willing assistance>
Random blogger/person in my life who only knows me and J through the limited format of social media: That’s nice, but <you are living your life wrong because you aren’t living life like me/how I want you to>.
That’s nice, but *you need to* handle that stuff yourself. <Followed by a detailed account of how they always handle their own shit (which is always false…there really is no one who does or even CAN handle everything in life alone…they are just deluded into thinking they don’t need any other people) and how it’s totally wrong and unhealthy for me to count on J for anything ever>
I got sick of that shit, so now I only write about my life here. Where…on fewer than a handful of occasions…I’ve gotten more unsolicited accounts from strangers about how my taste is wrong, or I need to Find Jesus, or making fun of something vulnerable about myself I shared here, but it’s been WAY less frequent and less painful than it was in those other places I used to share. Anyway, today I’m going do a small rant about the people who like to tell me to ‘handle things myself.’
There’s this children’s story called The Little Red Hen. Maybe everyone didn’t live inside media when they were small the way I did (because even when I was very small…I was told quite often to ‘handle things myself…’ You’re bored, Jen? Read a book. Go watch TV. Go outside and pick dandelions in the yard. Pet the neighborhood stray dogs. Walk to the library or the playground and don’t come home for a while. I don’t care. Do something for yourself, by yourself and *stop bothering me.*). But I’ve practically memorized this story from reading a Little Golden Book of it approximately 96,000 times since I was 4, so I’ll share the bare bones of the story for you here. The Little Red Hen wants some bread (who doesn’t?). She has three or four friends that live with or near her, and depending on the version of the story you read they can be three or four of the following…a pig, a dog, a cat, a cow, a duck, mice, a horse…and she asks them at intervals in the stages to get her some bread, ‘Who will help me <plant the wheat/corn…water the wheat/corn…harvest the wheat/corn…mill/grind the wheat/corn into flour…make the dough…bake the bread>?’ And every time, all of these lazy ingrates (sorry…I take this story personally even though it is meant to be a children’s fable) tell her, ‘Not I!’ And her response is always…
“…And she did.”
And then at the end, all the freeloaders want to eat the bread she did all the work for herself, and she tells them (not exactly, but close enough), ‘Tough shit. I’m eating it all myself.’
I mean, looking at it as an adult, it can easily be interpreted as a clear anti-sharing message, and I’m sure pro-capitalist conservatives would use it as a reasoning to deny people welfare. I won’t get political here, but I think those arguments are extremely flawed, and that’s never how I’ve seen the story. So I’m focusing on the lessons it taught me.
Sharing is always good, and I normally always share the bread I worked to make myself with people who gave me a bunch of ‘Not I’s!’ and it usually doesn’t even get to me. Everybody needs to eat. Even lazy ingrates. Even lazy ingrates who criticize the bread you made for them while they’re eating it. When they refused to help you make it at every step along the way when you asked them to.
But I recognize that people who are willing to help you are rare. It IS good to know how to survive on your own and do things for yourself. And it’s good to share what you have and what you can do with other people, even when they arguably ‘don’t deserve it.’ I don’t want to hoard my resources and talents. I WANT to share them. Just like I want to share my life…especially the positive parts and my gratitude…with other people.
But just imagine how much MORE quickly The Little Red Hen could have gotten her bread…how much more bread she could have made…how much more enjoyable her experience would have been doing all the work to get the bread…if even just ONE of those other animals would have agreed to help her when she asked. J helps me. My best friends help me. The Boy helps me (as much as he’s capable of…he’s 11). My dog helped me (comforting a sad and worried person is real help). Often without me even asking them to, but certainly every time I DID ask. They never give me, ‘Not I!’ Especially J. So I’m not going to feel ashamed of receiving some help. I KNOW how to ‘handle it myself.’ I have handled a lot of things myself for my entire life. But that’s not the best me or the best I can do or be. And I’m going to keep sharing it here when I’m happy and grateful for receiving some help, and not having to ‘handle it myself.’