Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from listening to Paul Simon as a kid. As an adult, I find a certain comfort in describing my life through his song lyrics.
Let’s talk about love for a minute, not necessarily romantic love, but any kind of love we may seek. What we seek from one person may not necessarily be what we find. From Hearts and Bones:
“…and tell me why; why won’t you love me for who I am where I am?
He said ’cause that’s not the way the world is baby; this is how I love you baby”
It’s true. Sometimes the people who love you don’t always love you the way in which you want or need to be loved. It’s not their fault.
I have CRPS. I am needy. I realize this. “Dealing” with me (and my needs) is a lot. I realize this too. It is frustrating to need emotional support. More frustrating, though, is needing emotional support, finding the courage to ask for it, and then not having it delivered in the form that I needed. I can be left feeling lonelier and emptier than before I asked.
It’s been over two and a half years…
At some point, it occurred to me that I should take more responsibility for my emotional needs. I, being overly analytical, figured out how to get the precise support I desperately need.
Going back to a world I once knew very well, I took a project managerial approach for resource management. I identified various needs and I identified the members of my support system who could fill the needs.
My support system is a big group, and not necessarily limited to a small inner circle of close friends. Let’s face it, CRPS is a big disease and it’s going to take a lot of people to carry me as I try to crowd surf my way through it.
My group is a fluid system, sometimes new members to the group come and sometimes old members go. Sometimes a person is helpful (dare I say “useful”…?) for a short time, then they decide to move on. The old me would have seen this as a great betrayal, felt hurt, wondered why.
I know why. It isn’t a great betrayal. It still hurts, but not as much as CRPS.
I now need to be mindful about emotional expenditure. I don’t have the luxury of extra time or energy for wallowing. I can’t think about loss; I have lost so much. I must be pragmatic.
While I hate to watch someone I trusted turn their back and walk away, I have to evaluate what that person gave to me, consider whether I still have that need, and if so, who else in my support arsenal can provide me with what I need. It seems shallow, or as if I view people as replaceable. People, individuals, are truly irreplaceable. This one will never take the place of that one, as a person. But, when it comes to a desperate need for a bad knock knock joke (for example), if my goto source is no longer available, I must find another person who can fill that role.
Through deliberate and careful analysis, I know myself as I am now and how I differ from who I was prior to my accident. I know when I need to be treated gently, when I need a kick in the pants, when I need to be distracted, and when I just need a hearty laugh.
More important, I know the way in which each person in my support system loves me. I know who will quietly hold my hand and tell me things will be OK. I know who will drive out of their way to give me a hug in a parking lot. I know who will keep calling to invite me to hang out, even if I have to say “no” 95% of the time. I know who will tell me to keep my “chin up,” that I need to “adapt,” and to “hang tough.” I know to whom I can tell exactly what I need to hear so they can repeat it back to me. I know with whom I can commiserate. I know who will seek my advice about life (because I really don’t enjoy being the focus). I know who will tell me that I’m strong and can handle this. I know who will allow me to be weak when I am about to break from feeling lost, angry, sad, and confused. I know who will make me laugh myself into a stomach cramp and tears.
This is the way the world is, this is how they love me. And I am very lucky. And I am very grateful.