February 21, 2020

I Don’t Need to be Saved. If I did, I’d Save Myself.

I was at the gas station the other day, and the latch for my gas cap was frozen shut.

This is a typical issue in upper New England in February, as it can be quite cold. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, and it surely wouldn’t be the last.

I let out a groan, and got to work trying to fix the issue, so that I could get the gas I needed and continue on my merry way.

I pushed on the cap, I hit it, I pulled the lever several times, and nothing happened. An inconvenience, sure, but it would be taken care of one way or another, through sheer force of will and MacGyvering what I had with me to get the job done.

I was about to dig out my set of keys to try and pry it open, when the young man at the pump beside me asked, “Do you want to use my knife?” He pulled a switchblade from his pocket, and held it in my direction.

At that moment, I appreciated that he didn’t try to be my hero, that he simply offered the tool I’d need to get the job done on my own.

This simple act made me think of other scenarios I’ve experienced. How often do people try and swoop in and save the day? How often would someone have said instead, “Here, let me just do this for you”?

Not all people, of course. The super helpers. The fixers. Those who look at others and wonder if they can do it on their own, or assume they can’t. Those who are so ready to help that they assume help is needed. Those who are subconsciously built to help others for one reason or another, and they don’t see the other person’s ability, independence, and drive. Those who have such an anxiety of failure that they project it onto others. Those who aim to please.

Such people are not bad people. I myself have been one. The helpers, the fixers, want to serve, they want to be of assistance. There’s no judgement in those types of actions, but sometimes we just don’t need to be saved.

I’ve had a lot of people offer their help, their advice, their stories, and their experiences to me in recent months. I’ve had people shift their plans and needs to try and help mine, without asking. I’ve had people assume what I needed done for me, without asking. I’ve had people assume that I must be walking around confused, unknowing, and incapable. While I appreciate the care, I haven’t asked for it. While I appreciate the offers, none of what was offered has been needed.

I’m in a fantastic place—mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I’m good.

I’m going through a divorce. I can see how people might feel as if I need help to get through it. I’ve known people who have needed help in this process. I’ve been there to help those in this process. My case is a little different, though. We’re not sad, we’re relieved. We’re not fighting, we’re friends.

I don’t need to be saved.

I need to plan my new future on my own terms.

I’m going to be living on my own for the first time in a long time. I’m trying to figure out how to do so as a freelance writer and artist, so that I can continue to homeschool my son.

I don’t need to be saved.

I need to be believed in.

I need to believe in myself.

I’m working through past trauma—things that haven’t come up in years, because they hadn’t been triggered until recently. I’m realizing some major things about my past, and I’m working through them one by one so that I can heal the wounds I didn’t realize were still there.

I don’t need to be saved.

I need space. I need occasional sounding boards. I need understanding and respect. I need to close those doors.

I need to heal.

It’s not to say that help isn’t ever necessary. Sometimes, it’s needed. Sometimes, we need resources, advice, and assistance from others. There’s no shame in it. There’s strength in asking for it when we need it. But sometimes, it’s not needed, and trying to force help on someone can hinder their own growth, their own healing, their own path.

In the past, I’ve been guilty of being the super helper. I’m protective and caring and loving. I care so much about the people in my life that I often wanted to fix their problems quickly so that they won’t feel any pain.

But pain brings lessons. It brings experience. It brings healing. Pain can build empathy. It can make someone stronger. It can change one’s life for the better. It may not seem like it in the moment. It rarely does, in fact. But when we look back at the past, we can see the moments that forced us to grow, that made us stronger, that helped shaped who we are. 

By injecting myself into the situation, by trying to do it for them, I was denying them the chance to do it on their own. What I’ve learned through the years is to ask, “Is there something I can do, or would you just like me to listen?” More often than not, my friends didn’t need a solution. They needed a sounding board.

Sometimes, we just don’t need saving.

Instead of assuming that someone needs to be saved, let’s assume they’re capable of saving themselves. Let’s assume that they are strong and resourceful and capable.

We can check in to see if assistance is required. We can offer specific things in order to help. But, instead of pressing, let’s assume that once help is offered, it will be taken as needed.

Even when I’m in distress, I’m no damsel.

I don’t need to be rescued.

I don’t need to be saved.

And if I did, I’d do it myself.


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