How do we help others?
Whether it’s understanding the baggage they carry, to the baggage you wish to liberate them from, or the load you wish to help carry. Where do you start?
Someone has to speak up first.
What seems like the easiest things to do is actually the hardest. Being afraid whether or not we will truly be heard, to those who will understand and when others will turn away from us.
It’s known that there are kids, teens, and adults who go through their life with struggles weighing them down. But on occasion, how many of them open up to find help? Close to none. And those who do look for help, sometimes isn’t always in the right places.
Some truth on the matter.
A lot of us, myself included, would be lying if we said there wasn’t any dark times in our lives. Obviously, we all deal with it differently, but no matter what you do for yourself, the pain without a doubt tends to stay with us the rest of our lives. But there are some who can cope and let go, others that who feel that there won’t be a light that will break through the darkness that they’ve surrounded themselves in. Those are the people who decide to live with that pain. Naturally, those are the people we want to help.
Now there are some pains I will never understand, like losing a mother at a young age. Recently I worked for a father whose daughter needed an after school tutor/sitter for a year.
In that year I had never seen anyone break down as much as she did. I learned that although I may never understand her pain, I made it known that it affects me as well. Especially when it’s a girl who deserves to be happy all the time, but isn’t.
After a great amount of time watching over her, it became easier to notice the days that impacted her the most. For example, the week before the anniversary of her mother’s death. It went from bad to worse when it was eminent. I watched her closely, and the more I got used to it, it all the sudden became like clock work. Where it usually started off with her smiling as she was walked to my car, and the moment we got home, that same smile I saw in the car, it was just a matter of minutes that it would disappear. Next thing you know her eye makeup was all runny while her face was drenched in tears.
I did what I thought was right, I would hug her, hold her and try to comfort her, but it isn’t easy, emotions like that can’t be tamed. If anything, they’re as unpredictable as a jungle cat. It would sometimes go well and she would talk to me, tell me about the dream she had about her mother or how she missed her mom. And then, there were other times where she would ask to be alone.
One day, I asked her what it was like to lose someone. Her only response was that it is the worst day of your life. It burdened her more so because at her age she didn’t understand what had happened. She went on to explain that when you’re a little older and begin to realize, that’s when a big chunk of you is ripped out without any warning. After that, all you want to do is nothing but lay around and hope for better days.
She then went on about how ungrateful some girls are, including some of her friends. Always saying that ‘they have their mothers and look how they treat them. It’s not fair.’ I thought about what she said, I know that I fought with my mother, but at the end of the day one of us bucks up and apologizes to the other. No one is perfect, or has a perfect relationship with either of their parents. What’s worse, what I didn’t want to tell her is that I knew that there’s a chance she would do the same if her mother was still around.
There were days I wanted her to have fun, to try and forget the impossible, even if it was for a little while. On her birthday, we went shopping and ended the day with a Nerf gun fight. We’d go to the movies, have ourselves a double feature, or I’d take her and her friends out.
Then, the second hardest day out of the year came around, Mother’s Day. The day she pointed out as the day she hated most. Trying to be nice, I pitched a few ideas to her, like if she wanted to get a card for her mom. Which she blatantly shot down, to be honest, I should’ve seen that one coming. It wasn’t until I asked her if she wanted to send a few balloons sky high, she gave me a smile I hadn’t seen in what felt like a lifetime.
Of course we didn’t send all of them up, we kept a few and played with the helium. While our voices squeaked and our high pitched laughs only made things better, it hit me. I didn’t expect this happiness to last, I knew it was going to be short lived. In mid drag, I thought what would happen when the helium was gone? She would go back to being all sad and mopey.
I caught a break when her dad came home early to spend the rest of Mother’s Day with her.
Everything about that year was a new experience for me. Not only did I get to feel like somebody’s older sister, I learned that I was capable of helping someone get through their day. I think what I liked most was about it all, was that I felt needed. From the home games at her high school that I would take her to, the homework she needed help doing, the projects that needed to get done, the movies we’d go and see, take her to therapy, going shopping, taking her out for lunch or dinner, the days we spent by the pool, going on ice cream runs, watching the shows we both loved hours on end on Netflix and being there when she needed me to take her out of school when days were hard. I was something she could count on, either by her side or coming to her rescue.
I look back and think I spoiled this kid, but who wouldn’t? Thinking about what she went through, without having had a mother for almost a decade and having no one but their dad? Here I was feeling guilty for even having a mom. Then I felt even worse knowing that she’s at a critical point in her life where she needs her mother most, and how she got a sister instead.
What I’ve learned.
The most obvious and easiest thing you can do, is just be there. And know that your only obligation most of the time is to shut up and listen.