Last year when I moved into my house from my little one-bedroom apartment, I took a cab to the U-Haul, where I rented a truck and drove it back to my apartment in time for the movers I’d hired to get started. It was my first time driving anything that large and I was a little nervous, but it went fine. The feeling reminded me of the first time I ever pumped gas. It’s silly because it’s such a simple task, but nobody showed me how. “You’ll get it, it’s not that hard.” My dad said. On one hand his confidence in my abilities has been a buoy, but on the other, both of my parents’ partial absenteeism from prioritizing getting lit left me flapping in the wind a bit. I’ve learned to be fearless in making change in my life and trying new things and getting things done, but there has always been part of me that wishes I didn’t have to be. My mom was going to pick me up from the U-Haul and take me back to my car after the move, but she wasn’t feeling well. I took another cab back.
The truth is I don’t really know what it’s like to be able to rely on someone. The adage “if you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself” for me as always begun “if you want done at all…” I don’t know what is appropriate to ask for, I don’t know what kind of help is reasonable to expect. So I don’t ask, and I don’t expect. I accept kindnesses when they’re offered, and offer them freely. I also don’t know what level of help or generosity is appropriate to give. When buying gifts, I always feel like whatever I’ve gotten is not quite enough. I don’t want to be a doormat, and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or feel obligated.
My habit in relationships past was to just give everything. I like to be thoughtful and sweet and indulge the one I am with but I’m not sure it was always appropriate. Perhaps it was just the ones I was with, but it created an imbalance and a precedent and my kindness was taken advantage of. I always allowed myself to be leaned upon, but never did the leaning. I don’t know how to lean. I have never been given reason to believe that the thing upon which I might lean wouldn’t give way and send me crashing to the ground. If I’d just not dared to lean, I might be fatigued but I’d still be standing.
But I am fatigued. I want to lean. I want to believe that there’s something sturdy enough out there. I think that I have wanted to believe it in the past, too, so I listened to untrue tales of “I’ll be there for you” and let myself believe them. I fell for the mirage of reliability, stability, comfort.. in people who really just wanted to use me. I don’t want to be duped again. I don’t want a mirage. But I don’t know how to tell the difference.