I like that I’m one of the people he’s calling right now. I like that he calls me from the hospital, that he reads me the eulogy. I like feeling like I can help. I like feeling useful. Feeling useful is a relief: it pulls me out of my own pain. It makes me feel connected. It makes me feeling purposeful. All of that feels like a rope.
And, it’s intimate. Someone I love is letting me up close in a profound way, and even though there is pain there, it feels good and right to be up close.
I talk with another friend last night who is struggling with work and meaning, his values versus his financial constraints. It was hard, calling and then hearing the pain in his voice. The blustery quality his voice takes on when he’s struggling in this way. And there was some inertia: I heard it in his voice, and I have to decide to shift, to cross the energy barrier to engage.
It’s still a bit unusual for him to lean on me in this particular way. Usually when he feels like this, he holes up. We talked last week about this, about how, he said, with certain kinds of struggles, he doesn’t think to ask for help, to lean on people. He had said he wasn’t sure what the point was: “Most of the time, I already know what I have to do.” And so we talk about what leaning on people can mean, or be for. We talk about emotional support, empathy, encouragement, and so on.
So, I’m glad that he’s sharing this with me. I’m honored. And impressed: I know this isn’t natural for him, and it can be so much harder to take a risk when you’re already in the hole.
So, we talk. And, again, the relief, the rope, of being there for someone else, of immersing in someone else’s world, of doing something useful, of connecting so up-close. Of course we haven’t fixed everything in a night, but, at the end of the conversation, he tells me that he feels a bit better. I can see it in his face, feel it in the way his voice changes.