Why is that button there?
I like to help people. I like it a lot, in fact, and I think most people do, especially when they feel the sense of appreciation and gratitude by the receiving person.
Such was the case for me the other day. I have a good friend that needed some assistance with something, and I was able to help, so I did. She was very gracious and grateful, too. I felt like I had done the right thing by helping her out.
I was having a conversation with another person the following day, and this very subject came up. I originally wasn’t going to bring it up at all, but I knew it was going to come up, and I didn’t want to lie about it, so I just tried to blast past it. That didn’t work so well – I was stopped dead in my tracks. I was asked for clarification, and then I was questioned about my motive; what did I want, what was I trying to get out of this deal? I felt belittled, actually. It wasn’t intentional, I assure you of that, but it was hard to hear someone question why I was doing what I was, and I felt like I was being reprimanded, although I know that wasn’t the case. Nonetheless, I felt like a kid-in-the-corner again. Have I ever mentioned that I hate feeling like a kid? No? Well – I do.
Today, all I could do was get worked up over the fact that my honorable intentions were being questioned. I was letting this person, someone I trust so much, get me worked up and frustrated about something as innocent as my gift to the said Receiver. Why was this such a bad thing?
After work, I went and picked up two friends and took them to the meditation meeting I chair, which I didn’t chair tonight because one of them wanted to do it, so I let them. The topic was accidentally read from December’s Daily Reflection instead of January’s, which was about thinking of others and helping them. Go figure. So normally, after we meditate, I don’t chime in unless I’m asked; but I was bothered by this whole thing all day, so I decided to talk – why not? Everyone says it will help, and talking got me a sponsor who’s working through the steps with me – why not talk?
After I explained my little issue (pretty much as I did above), a guy in the meeting said this:
“If people are pushing your button, maybe you should figure out why the button is there.”
Damn. It. All.
I enjoy helping people. I truly do. And I do it when I can. It’s not that this last time was any different, nor was it the problem; it’s that almost all of the instances are the problem. The reason I don’t like people questioning my purpose for doing something for someone is because I don’t like the button being pushed – it opens a trap door, one where I keep all my secrets. You know, the secretest-secrets. The ones that are so secret, you have to look, and pass through, other secrets to get to the Deep Secret. Ya. That Secret. (Say that enough times and you’ll wonder what the hell a “secret” is.) Interestingly, it’s a secret that isn’t so secret; it’s something that stares me in the face daily, just not always wearing the same camouflage.
Fear of losing, to be specific. Afraid of losing a person, yet again, for an unknown reason, by an unknown cause, at an unknown time. And Fear’s favorite tool? Worry. Worrying about if I did this right or wrong, are they going to stop talking to me? Or if I don’t help them this time, will they be upset, and disappear? Or if I don’t bend over backwards, even though I was never asked to, are they going to toss me out with the rest of the worthless trash?
The answer is (almost) always “No. They won’t.” Yet, it’s almost always a driving force for me. I don’t mean it to be “wrong” or “bad,” it’s just something that has always been in me – fear of being alone. Afraid of having no companionship. Terrified of dying by myself, no one to long for me or love me or care for me. So I care less about myself, to make myself more available, and suddenly I'm no longer alone. Right?
No. My counselor calls it “stepping over boundaries.” Not their boundaries, my boundaries; or not having them. It’s letting people take advantage of me, without them even wanting to. And apparently, it is an unhealthy thing to do, for myself as well as them. The “no strings attached” still come with attached strings apparently, and tethered on the other end can be resentments. We all know where resentments can lead.
This is a very, very real thing for me, fear. Fear constantly lurks around nearly every Secret I’ve got, and it’s a powerful son-of-a-bitch. But its got a flaw, it leaves a big, bright button everywhere it goes, and people push it. And as long as I’m aware that that button is being pushed, I can find the source, and in finding it, I can see the purpose for doing what I do. Once I know the reason – I can then begin to truly help others.