Recently the topic of support came up. When you support so many, who supports you? Well, I have to say that question hit me hard while in mid yawn and stretch this morning. I was still rubbing the sleepy’s out of my eyes as I got up to go to the gym. It landed on me like a slow thick thump on the chest and slid down into my gut in a way that didn’t feel so good as I brushed my teeth.
I’m not one for self pity, self loathing, nor do I ever want to appear needy. I also don’t know if those are even the right words to say as I write? I avoid being high maintenance at all costs. I do not have any desire to draw attention to myself in any way, so this is already making me red and splotchy as the cursor blinks.
Typically I can throw the ol’ noggin back in a great laugh and rattle off something witty back, but I’m finding it tough to answer. Supports me? As I reread a friend’s text reply back from our day’s events the question asked is “Who supports you?” This is something I’ve never been asked, and I’ve been asked a lot of things. I consider myself a bit on the up and up, ready to be asked anything, and have a comeback faster than a hot knife cuts butter. Yet, this morning I don’t know how to respond.
It made me stop.
It made me hold my breath.
Oh shit, um who does take care of me? I began to think, while brushing my teeth, well the obvious political answer is my husband of course. I immediately heard Mr. Subconscious pipe up from the back of my mind’s classroom. Like the annoying charming troublemaker with a cute smirk saying, “Nope, that ain’t true.” As he smacked his bubble gum, resting his foot on the next desk over and winked. What is this, a bad 80s movie? I, as the questioned teacher and authority on me says, “Um yes,” convincingly, “He takes off the trash, sometimes twice a day, and grills, oh and grocery shops, and loads and UNLOADS mind you, the dishwasher.” Clearly stating the facts and evidence as proof of cared-forness. “Thank you.”
Quickly now, think of others. What about the people I pay? They count surely? Of course they do! I pay 9 kiddos that help me help clients every day. One of them, Art, even brings my kids to go food. Oh, and I pay a scrappy and strong 5x divorced cleaning lady who helps take care of the house. I’ve always thought secretly she would be the one to call if I had a dead body to hide. She counts on the hash marks for support!
Ahh, my children. Yes. I do pay them too, but they always gladly bring me more coffee, more water, and in a past life more wine. They also cuddle up to me when they find me lying horizontal to clear my head. Oh, and they always ask me if I want some of their popcorn when they are making themselves some.
Ahh, Emma! Emma takes great care of me. She is the most comforting French Bulldog on earth. Talk about sweet and she needs me. Yes, I paid for her, but I feel she counts. With every belly rub there’s major care in there and licks of support.
Oh, ok got it! Here’s one… you! I say you, Natalia, with every response to every random e-send, and Yoon Soo, Ziddi, oh and Mary! All of the VCFA kiddos take care of me. Doesn’t matter that I pay for tuition at all. That check has cashed and every one is still a support link away.
Janet! My therapist? I really like her though. She cares, she supports me, but I pay her too. As well as the sobriety groups. Crap I pay for one of them $9 a month. Hmph.
Okay, I got it. I have a few women friends that know my journey. Katy has even read some of my grad school packets. Britany the client, now friend, and neighbor Kristi. There’s a few others in the outer rings, Rachel, Starr, and that one girl at the gym. Oh I recently told my high school best friends I was sober. After some pretty great jokes and bad memory recalls of “Remember when you puked all over Brad’s deck and backyard? We thought you were dead when we checked your pulse. Oh, and passed out in the doorway of the hotel room in Chicago and we left you there all night and sat pizza on you in case you woke up? We have pictures of that. Oh, yeah Beta Club convention, wow you were slammed!” Um, I was 16. Wow. Ending in “I didn’t realize you couldn’t control it, or it was a problem for you. You always seemed so happy.” Haven’t heard back from them since then.
Okay, class, back to order. Back to today’s topic, who supports me? Show of hands please! Who takes care of me? There’s a long uncomfortable pause. I mean long. I hear the dog sigh, the wind blow outside, and my own throat struggling to swallow. Is that a lump swelling up? Hell, I’ve got to get to the gym.
I considered leaving the rest of this page blank – or to be continued. I guess I’ll keep writing, but I don’t know. As far back as I can remember I’m not sure who took care of me. I’m now looking at my reflection at my ponytail. Covid has my hair longer than it’s ever been as an adult. My pony is all ragged and tangled, thrown up in a rush by hand with fresh bedhead fly aways.
Others’ hair at the gym looks sleek, smooth, controlled. How do you even make a ponytail? I’m 41 and don’t know. Did I have one as a child? My two older sisters were usually in an angry teased cloud of Aquanet, and I was in the way in the tiny bathroom with only 2 vanity spots. I have no memories of my mother brushing or fixing my hair. Rather, taking me to my Aunt’s beauty parlor telling them to “Just chop it all off.” Mom didn’t have time to fool with it, she said often. “After all she’s too much of a TomBoy to care.” She was tired all the time I knew so why bother with a stupid ponytail. Dad wished I was a boy anyways he always said, “Let’s chop it off Aunt Marsha!” I smiled.
My grandma certainly was my keeper, carer, and supporter of me. I was often dropped off in a rush. Mom quickly running in pushing me from behind to tell grandma a quick hello. Then rushing back out to the station wagon so she and dad could get to the party. They were already late and stressed. Does grandma count a support from 30 years ago?
Many men, and maybe a crazy self proclaimed best friend woman or two have tried to care for me, but I didn’t want them to. They seemed a bit aggressive and needed more from me than I could give. I don’t think I need support anyway – I never have needed caring for, we had to get to work, to get to bed, to get up, to get to work each day. Caring was all I did do all day, so deeply it hurt sometimes. Even my restless vivid dreams were full of care as a child. Do you ever remember dreaming that you had to stay awake to take care of everyone, so you made yourself stay awake in your sleep. It’s exhausting. Whew I had some nightmares growing up.
Ahh crap, it’s hitting me. Do I need support? Who does support me? I mean I do. I am caring for myself. It’s me. I’m supporting me in ways I never ever have before in my life. I’m allowed to pick me right? Does that count? Who cares about ponytails anyway.