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Color Me Lucky

by Ruth Gordon, LCSW

Despite, the often, dramatic, ups and downs, I think I have led an extraordinarily lucky life . This is because of the people I have been fortunate and privileged to know who have chipped away the ice as I was becoming worn out and seriously considering giving up. Repeatedly, just as I was running out of steam, the right person has come along, at the right time, and has given me whatever it is I have needed to get me to the other side of the street.

I am not going to name names here, but I hope, and believe, that those of you I love and appreciate, (who are, obviously, still alive) who are reading this, know who you are.

We all say that “we have to love ourselves first”. I agree with that to an extent. It is the rare human being who can live in isolation and retain his/her sanity and humanity. It’s the other people in our lives who lift us up above the level of pure survival. The right kindness at the right time makes all the difference.

It has been brought to my attention that many people who know me believe that I am very strong. Much of the time, that is true. However, I think a lot of that comes from having been an only child and having grown accustomed, as an adult, to handling things on my own. When my parents died within a few months of each other, there was no one but me to take care of things. I don’t feel badly about that — it felt natural — I wasn’t expecting anything else.

My good fortune has included having parents who were unusual in that my father taught me to be tender and my mother taught me to be tough. This role reversal allowed me to fear no one (after all, in my family the women were not considered to be inferior and the men knew how to nurture). It is only under unusual circumstances (which I will not reveal) that anyone is able to intimidate me. How lucky is that!! Harry calls me his “little giant”, and he’s right — I never remember that I’m only 4’ 11” tall.

None of my so-called strength could have blossomed, however, if there hadn’t been , and still are, friends who knew I needed help, even when I didn’t ask for it, and stepped in to prop me back up.

Allowing others to be aware of our vulnerabilities is far different, in my opinion, from being needy. When we are vulnerable, we have a difficulty, be it temporary or permanent, with which we need help. On the other hand, chronic neediness, in my opinion, stems from a resistance to adult responsibility and an expectation that those who are self-sufficient will “save” him/her when he or she gets into trouble, which has become a way of life.

If you think I’m being judgmental, you are right. Certain things drive me crazy, and among those are individuals who, with a strange form of entitlement, expect everyone else to clean up their mess.

It’s a good thing that everyone is not like me, and some folks thrive on rescuing people who, with some effort, could probably recover on their own, and be stronger for the effort. But hey, it’s only my opinion.

Should anyone ask, this does NOT include my clients — they have already looked within and have asked for help. I have found it to be profoundly gratifying to be in the position to assist someone who may not understand (but wishes to) what their need is and where to go for help. This is the foundation for the satisfaction I get from the work I do. Again, I’m so lucky to be able to have a job that satisfies my soul.

I have been fortunate in finding relationships that have allowed me to redefine who I am; what type of person I am. Anyone who has been through childhood (all of us) and has sustained personally painful intimate relationships has, without a doubt, suffered in terms of his/her self-esteem. I have people in my life who have really experienced my core and have loved me nonetheless. What a gift! What luck!

It seems to me that the things we hold to be important in our lives change, on occasion, with time and circumstance. The constant in my life has been, as it is, I believe, for many others, the hearts I have touched and those who have touched mine.

I believe that people are, essentially, well-intentioned, and, at least, have faith in their own ideas of right and wrong. Of course, there are many differing opinions on this subject, so we humans get into disputes and often mess things up pretty badly. The counter balance to this is that, so often, and unnoticed, life-changing kindnesses are doled out every day.

I thank those of you who have enhanced my human experience throughout my life. There are no words to express the gratitude I feel. How lucky I am that you have been there and I have had the awareness to notice.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit

Albert Schweitzer

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Ruth Gordon is licensed clinical social worker in both Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

One Response to “Color Me Lucky”

  1. Trina Scicutella Says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

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