Guarded and crumbling

So the last few weeks I have been binging Chicago Med. Somehow in the midst of having a baby, buying a new house and a new job, I missed it was a show. From the first episode I really enjoyed it and felt drawn to the psychiatrist, Dr. Charles. It wasn’t until the second season and the 17th episode that I realized why….

Dr. Reese – “Everyone comes to you don’t they, with all their pain? And you just have to absorb it. How are you doing today?”

Dr. Charles – “It was awful, it is just awful.”

Dr. Charles is the one everyone comes to… is the support, he is the guide. It was at the end of this particular episode when another doctor kills himself that it hit me… I love Dr. Charles, because I am him… not completely… I am not a medical doctor… but I feel like I am a person people feel comfortable coming to… I a person others look to for guidance, support, stability, comfort… I hold these positions as a badge of honor and keep moving along… but at some point… one day… it is too heavy… it is awful.

Last week Matthew and I were so fortunate to spend some time on the coast of Oregon. I felt the stress magically melt away… or at least I thought it had. Part of our time included massages! I was so looking forward to it and knew I had more tension and knots than ever. The massage was great and relaxing. I felt tension leave my body. When it was over, the very nice man who did the massage was talking with me. He stated “your muscles were very guarded.”

At first I wanted to be offended, but then started laughing because there has never been a better metaphor for my life…

While I was telling Matthew about it I was laughing, I was also crying… because I know I am guarded. I know the last 18 months I have tried to wrap myself in teflon, but I must admit, it is not working anymore… The pandemic, the strife in our community, the ongoing division, the never ending number of people in mental health crisis is so much… and as Dr. Charles finally admitted… it is awful.

You see when you are viewed as the helper, you get in your mind you can’t be the one in need of help. No one tells you this… and in all honesty it is only an expectation placed on you by yourself. For a while you are able to keep up. Your ability to guard your muscles works out for you… but bit by bit you start to shrink. The pain you see… absorb… is too much. No one has asked you to take it all on, but you do… until one day someone notices it and you crumble…. and you realize the moment you feel like you are in a puddle that you are experiencing what it really is to live life.

Life isn’t to be lived guarded. Life is to be lived vulnerable and fully. It is being willing to say I am here for you, but at the same time being able to say this is all too much… it is awful. It is realizing that when we let our guard down, that others want to also be a support to us. It is being willing to say the helper also needs to be helped. It is acknowledging we all are human and we all hurt, and we all need break… and every once in a while, we need to crumble… it is when we crumble, we are able to feel the love and support of those around us and we slowly rise back up stronger because we are wiser for leaning on others. This world was never meant to be faced alone… even for the helpers.

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