Taking care

by singlemomseeking on July 30, 2009

trail_walk

I love to hike — and for the past few Sundays, I’ve scheduled some free time just to walk in the hills with that Lucky Guy.

Last weekend, however, as we climbed a steep hill and kept going, my right leg started to hurt. I kept going. But as I climbed another hill, it started to cramp up in the back, behind my knee.

I thought maybe I’d twisted my leg a strange way in kickboxing earlier that week. If I kept on walking, I figured that my muscles would stretch out and relax. But no. It hurt — a lot.

So, I told LG that I needed to stop and stretch. Him: “Are you okay?”

Me: “Yeah, I’m fine.”

For as long as I can remember, feeling needy and vulnerable with a man has terrified me. Don’t get me wrong: who doesn’t want someone to lean on? Who doesn’t dream about opening her eyes in a moment of anxiety and seeing him right here, present for you?

So, why is it so hard for me to lean on someone in a moment like this? I wanted to keep going on the trail, but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was limping.

“Let’s stop,” he said.

Me: “No, I’m fine, really.”

Finally, he tugged on my hand and encouraged me to sit down on the side of the trail. Fox gloves stuck to my pants, and I tried to tug them out.

Without saying a word, he took my leg and draped it on top of his. Then he started to rub gently behind my right knee. I started to laugh. Why was I so flustered? Couldn’t I simply be in this moment — on the edge of the trail, sitting in the dirt — and let this man take care of me?

Tell me: When’s the last time you let someone take care of you?





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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Robynbeth July 31, 2009 at 5:09 am

I know I have trust issues and due to this I have a problem with being that vulnerable with a man. I always feel like I have to forge ahead and be all things to all people because of the past. Not really fair to those who stop and want to help.

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judy July 31, 2009 at 6:45 am

15 1/2

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Scott July 31, 2009 at 7:02 am

I think its spelled “over analyzing”. Jeeze, do you think you could pick a situation apart any more than that? No wonder you’re still single and seeking!

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singlemomseeking July 31, 2009 at 10:08 am

@Scott: You’re certainly not the first one to make this observation. And I won’t begin to defend myself. Thanks for the sharp feedback.

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Anna July 31, 2009 at 7:06 am

it’ been a looooong time.

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wandamd22 July 31, 2009 at 8:17 am

March 2009, my Dad suddenly died, leaned on boyfriend (who pleaded with me too because I was hesitant). Sadly, he wasn’t capable holding up the weight. We played a game of “trust me” for 3 weeks…I would be standing there theoretically shaking my head “no”, he would stand behind me with his arms out wanting to catch me. I would give in, fall, then find the wind knocked out of me as he stepped aside. Repeat. Never quite trusted him (or myself) 100% since. Its a struggle, would love advice for how others got past it.

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MindyMom July 31, 2009 at 10:16 am

Being vulnerable could very well be worth the risk. Jump in with both (wounded or not) feet. And enjoy every moment of it.

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Legal Editor Mom July 31, 2009 at 10:49 am

Feeling (and acting) needy and vlunerable is one thing, letting the man rub your leg or assist you when you’ve hurt yourself is another. Come on, Rachel, lighten up.

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John F July 31, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I am like you. I don’t need anyone..even when I do. I think it is just a type of personality.

Last summer I took a fall(the night before I was scheduled to fly to the Caribbean dammit) and tore my patellar tendon. Laying in the middle of the road, I was like “it’s ok , I can get to the side.” and then I refused an ambulance and called a friend.

It’s just the way some people are.

When I am sick, I prefer to be left alone and to my own devices. People close to me understand!

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singlemomseeking July 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Ouch @Jonh F! Are you healed.

Question: Do you think that any of this “I prefer to be left alone and to my own devices” mindset is related to our childhoods? Say, you might have learned early on as a kid to fend for yourself and get back on your own feet — on your own?

Or, maybe I just need to lighten up….

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ScubaDad July 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I think it works both ways too, when was the last time you allowed yourself to take care of someone else? Both being able to be vulnerable and show that to someone as well as placing yourself in the position to be the one leaned on carry equal measures of risk. I agree with Scott though, carrying all that heavy shielding can explain why your legs are sore.

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singlemomseeking July 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm

@Scuba Dad: I’m still coming down from your former comment about what happened when you told that single mom that you were falling for her…. are you okay?

All right guys, I’m putting down the heavy shield. Here goes–

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Legal Editor Mom July 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm

@John: You still called a friend, so you still needed someone!

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Love Coach Rinatta July 31, 2009 at 4:36 pm

For me, the question lately has been “whom am I dealing with”. As in I can often be guarded and not trust and not allow others to take care of me. So can many of my single clients. That’s a not a good strategy obviously.

But rather than forcing myself or my clients to trust blindly, I ask about the person being trusted. Are they in fact trustworthy? If they are, how do I – or the client – know that?

If there’s not concrete evidence that the person is trustworthy, it’s ok to not trust and take care of yourself. If there is evidence, then it’s good to slowly lower the shield, allow some caring and see what happens.

This seems so basic, and yet, often in real life people trust people who should not be trusted and don’t trust people who can very much be trusted.

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molly July 31, 2009 at 7:17 pm

First of all, Scott, you’re a dick. Rachel is too classy to say this, so I’ll say it for her.

This is a huge issue for single moms who have been majorly disappointed in a man’s ability to “take care” of us. Of course the wonderful side is that we learn to take care of ourselves and that it is ultimately our responsibility to do this job. But we totally tend to overcompensate.

Our bad past experiences with men we cannot depend on are not “the truth”; they are just one experience with one type of man. There are all types.

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Alicia July 31, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Rachel, perfectly legit post. When I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship – I act pretty much the same way. I think it just gets back to us having to constantly remind ourselves to live in the present! Your Lucky Guy sounds so awesome. I’m happy for you!

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Carissa August 1, 2009 at 5:35 am

My last boyfriend could see my strength and independence; he often commented on it during our dinner dates and adventures around San Francisco. However, like everyone, I have weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I was acting as the mediator between intense family conflict for sometime, and it just happened to BLOW UP during a date with him. I tried desperately to hide it, feeling as if it would taint me or the attractiveness of me. In his way he kept asking about the circumstances and how he could help. I was so broken down that I opened up and explained the situation. As I expected he wasn’t sure how to react, but over the course of several days he processed it and came to me with his opinion and assistance. It was comforting to pass a portion of my load to someone that truly cared.

Even though we are no longer in a romantic relationship, he still inquires about this issue. I think ultimately all men want to be NEEDED. There is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to need them in a special way from time to time. For some reason that seems to keep the male psyche healthy!

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singlemomseeking August 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

@Carissa, this is poignant: “I think ultimately all men want to be NEEDED.”

Do all of you — men and women — agree with this one?

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judy August 1, 2009 at 8:33 am

This week I replaced the parts in my leaky toilet via internet directions, went through the training for a new part-time job to pay my daughter’s medical bills, argued with customer service when my camera broke and I had the receipt for the service plan, reworked my budget to prepare for car insurance to include my DD later this year, researched the Marines since my DD announced that is what she wants to do post high school (yikes I have been putting money into a college fund for her), had 300.00 worth of work done on my car, maintained my house and yard as we always do…alone.

something go wrong worth my body…nope. Like you, on the trail, we just have to keep going to keep it all going. If we acknowledge we need help then it almost like failing. Furthermore, for me, it is worse if it something physical that may need attention.

I also do not ask for help, reserving help for that time when there may be no other choice (major illness, accident).

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singlemomseeking August 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

@Judy, your list has me in awe. Someone out there wants to say “yes” to you. I hope you know that.

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Onely August 1, 2009 at 7:12 pm

“all men want to be needed”: I think many do. They think they are supposed to be providers. In some men this is charming, but in others it comes across as sexist. As Molly said in her response to Scott (I agree, what he said *was* dickish), single women who have learned by necessity to be very independent tend to overcompensate and refuse help from men in order not to accidentally succumb to one of those men who thinks that providing for a woman means she is inferior to him.
Christina

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VJ August 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I think everyone wants to be needed and feel useful, especially to & for those that we love or befriend or even work with. It’s a natural human desire. So is caring & trust, but it often is ‘tainted’ by past histories & prior bad experiences both familial and relationship wise. I cannot begin to fathom the sometimes poisonous nature of the destruction of such a basic human desire & inclination in people due to either their less than stellar upbringing or past miserable relationships and entanglements, romantic or otherwise (here financial comes to mind now, right?)

But it is indeed a very fragile thing, and can easily be broken but only slowly returned or rebuilt. For ‘wandamd22s’ BF to pull the old ‘Lucy w/the football & Charlie Brown’ trick with her in an otherwise ‘trust building exercise’ is a bit dastardly, if I’m understanding the scenario properly here.

But consistently this is what always impresses me about most of the single mom’s I know. Like Judy, they wind up doing everything. I know quite a few that are decent ‘shade tree mechanics’ to keep their desperately needed ancient cars running & on the road. Plumbing & light sheetrocking/carpentry included too. Just amazing gals. They become that way because they often have to. It’s as simple as that. No one reliable to fall back on, and/or family being too far distant to help regularly.

But really? It all boils down to an issue of trusting another soul. It need not even be trusting him/her with your heart. Just enough to be able to get some things done more efficiently with the help of caring friends. Goodness knows it’s difficult, and does take time and careful consideration. But it’s often worth it.

For me? Really the last time I let someone take care of me was some years back after a serious injury. And the wife was wonderful here. And naturally we take care of each other. Recently she had to be packed in ice every night due to another injury. The entire side of her body had to be covered. I got it down to about a 5 min ‘wrap’, but it was far too cold to sleep with her, even hours later! You’ve never felt a bed so cold, unless you’ve frequented the ‘frozen hotels’ up North!

It’s not a question of feeling ‘needy or vulnerable’. Those are natural states given certain circumstances. It’s allowing & trusting someone else to help you when needed. I know that’s sometimes difficult to admit to, but again, it’s a natural human need, and it’s naturally expressed & expected in loving relationships. All of them. We should come to expect mutual aid & comfort in times of trouble & need from both kin & loved ones. Even in most animals too. It’s really as simple as that when you get down to the base of the caring impulse. It’s just not often taught (and too infrequently expressed) nowadays I guess! Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’

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Nicki August 2, 2009 at 5:13 am

It was Easter Sunday. I was sick and trying desperately not to ruin the fun. My boyfriend ran to the store to buy me a Coke. He made dinner, since the mere scent of food had me nauseous. And he ended the evening by making me a towel animal so I would feel better.

Letting him take care of me is so hard to get used to, but so worth the effort.

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Solo-Dad August 2, 2009 at 9:13 am

This is a question that plagues me. My tendency is to never ask for help and when someone offers, I feel totally unworthy of their assistance. Then I want to pay them back immediately and never be in a situation where they feel the need to help ever again. WTF?

Others can go with the flow and be cool with the help they receive from family and friends. I’m not that way.

Perhaps it’s the single-parent meme we’ve adopted: ‘I must do it all; I must do it all alone because there isn’t anyone else around.’

I’m not comfortable with being this way…and I don’t think you are either. LG seems like a good guy to help you through this though. That, in itself, is a good place to be.

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GLSD August 3, 2009 at 11:03 am

I think this is so true….“I think ultimately all men want to be NEEDED.” As for myself and hubby, we are a team, so we help each other out… take care of each others needs…and are in this together. There are just things that he does without having to ask him. I can’t say I have a headache…he’ll get up and get me pills to soothe it. I don’t ask anyone else for help and if anyone else offers I politely say thanks but I’ve got it.

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singlemomseeking August 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

@GLSD: I love the fact that you chime into my blog. You give me so much hope! Here’s to teamwork!

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T August 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I agree. I do think all men want to be needed.

I’ve had to learn this with Rascal. He SO wants me to lean on him but also maintain my independence. It is an interesting dance that we do… but so far it is working.

He took SUCH good care of me and my family this past weekend for the triathlon.

Trust comes with time, Rachel.

Allow it.

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T August 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I actually also agree that we all want to be needed. But I think men feel respected when we need them and allow them to take care of us.

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Crazy Computer Dad August 3, 2009 at 7:43 pm

who ever really wants to feel vulnerable? Who wants to feel like they can’t accomplish a task on their own?

When you start depending on someone, then you start worrying about what will happen if they go away.

Maybe we have been hurt by depending on someone that let us down and are reluctant to let that happen again? We can’t stay there though…maybe it is like spurning everyone that comes into your life because you want to strike back at the person that really hurt you?

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Crazy Computer Dad August 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm

:-) Wanted to add, you depend on your friends at times and that doesn’t seem to invoke this feeling. LuckyGuy is your boyFRIEND so it isn’t like you are depending on a man, you are leaning on a FRIEND.

Also, SGG and I just finished two days of hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Sherando Lake. We just bought some hiking poles. I HIGHLY recommend them. I don’t know why (or how) I’ve been hiking so long without them. She has problems with her knees and the poles were a huge help going up or down hills and over rocky terrain.

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