Something has occurred to me recently. It’s a bit raw and confused, but I’ve found that many of you like those posts the best, so here goes.
I haven’t been able to be very helpful for the last few months. And helpful is one of the biggest ways I define myself. Always has been. So not being able to be helpful, I would have expected, would throw my whole world into turmoil.
Alan is managing the bakery entirely without me. Training new staff, procuring a new mixer and winning new wholesale accounts. Even the Saturday market in Stratford which was entirely my responsibility, he’s got organized. All that and he’s running the house, too.
He doesn’t need me.
No, it’s OK. He loves me. I know that. But we’re talking necessity, here. We’re talking need, which is not the same as love.
And as I pull out of one commitment after another and the organizations I was volunteering for carry on without me, I realize I’m not actually needed anywhere. I am appreciated. I am valued. And I got that confused with being needed.
I am not necessary.
Which is a tough thing to realize for someone as conscientious as I am. I always thought that my doing for others meant that I was needed to do for others. But as I move out of various roles, that leaves the way open for someone else to fill those roles. And they do. Or those roles go unfilled and the world carries on. Being appreciated is not the same thing as being needed.
Being loved is not the same thing as being needed. Having lost some of the people closest to me, people who I thought I would die if they weren’t in my life and then continued to live, I realize that we, none of us is actually necessary to each other. Loved, certainly. Desired, appreciated and loved some more. But not necessary.
We may need to have other people in our life, but who those people are is fluid and ever-changing. And yes, we do meet someone who we adore and spend years and years being their friend or their sibling or their spouse and it’s wonderful and we relish it. But if it ends, when it ends, we keep on breathing. Missing them and sad, but still breathing.
I know that I am loved. I thought that meant that I was necessary. But it doesn’t. It only means that I am loved.
There is freedom in this realization. Guilt melts away from your relationships with other people and with the organizations you want to help. Here is what I can give you. No, you don’t need any more than that.
The only person that we are truly necessary to is ourselves. Or we ought to be. Think about it. When we go out of our lives, we actually will stop breathing, which we cannot say about anyone else, no matter how precious they are to us.
But do we believe in this necessity? Do we treat ourselves as necessary? Or do we treat ourselves as an afterthought? An annoying burden to be dragged along through life and resented.
I know where I fall. Please let me know what you think.