The Hand that Feeds You?

When I was a kid, I really didn’t know what “poor” meant. I didn’t fully understand what it meant to have so little you had to ask for help from others. Surely, there are those who have less and knowing that only shows you how much farther “rock bottom” actually is. As a kid, I remember the feeling I first noticed when someone else had something that I couldn’t have, it wasn’t fair and it became difficult to justify why other people had nice things and a big house and all that while we lived in this trailer in some park hidden outside of town. I also remember how it felt when someone gave us something, it was as if we owed them something for their kindness. There was always some “I” attached to the conditions when someone helped “us”. At times, there was a reminder of how someone took time out of their busy lives to help poor little us. They broke away from all their responsibilities and all their fancy nice things to get closer to the dirt and give us some helping hand. For weeks, months, and sometimes even years there would be some reminder that we should be thankful because they helped us. We should be grateful. We should be respectful. We should always remember that they helped us because they were not poor.

This education of being closer to the dirt than others continued on throughout my life as we were forced to rely on the kindness and prosperity of others. It seemed to haunt my life throughout elementary school right into high school and by that point I had developed a solid position on charity. I learned that there is never anything that you receive that is actually free; there is always a cost hidden somewhere. I learned that many people help others to boast themselves up and they make sure that they are acknowledged for their ability to express their kindness. I developed a hardened heart towards this and became stubborn and refused to ask for help of any kind. Even the simplest thing as asking for a stick of chewing gum or bumming a cigarette when I used to smoke was as difficult for me as trying to ask for someone to donate a kidney. I would go without or figure out some other way to get whatever it was that I needed as long as I didn’t have to ask for help. There were so many times in my life when I would walk more than twenty miles rather than try to ask for a ride. I would struggle to carry heavy objects and figure out how to get that fridge in the damn door way without having to rely on anyone else. I figured that if you didn’t have the money for it than that was it you didn’t get to have it because that is why there are the “haves” and the “have nots” and without money you “have not”.

This hardness became both a strength and a curse for me throughout life and remains extremely difficult to ask others for anything. I’m not as close to the dirt as I was once before but times are still difficult and I have yet to reach the same status as those who are of the “haves”. There is this feeling of loneliness when you are in need and feel that there is no such thing as “no strings attached” charity. You certainly know you are in need of help and you exhaust your mind trying to find a way out of this situation you are put in, fell into, or basically put yourself into. “How can I get out of this?” “how do I fix this?” “What will it cost me to ask for help and who do I trust to help me without taking what I have left?” All the questions seem to end with the same crying plea of “why me?” This lesson in life has made it both difficult for me to ask for help in means of things I need as well as being able to share my feelings, fears, and emotional struggles with anyone. I have learned that I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems be it financial, physical, or emotional. I will just figure out how to deal with them because that is what I do.

Being on the more experienced end of my adult ages, I still can’t seem to ask for help, although I have been trying. Most of the time there really isn’t anyone who can help me, there are many who want to but there are few who seem to actually have the ability. I have found people who I can talk to but not many. This platform for writing these blogs help a great deal because it takes some of the thoughts out of the congestion of my mind. There are times when I have a break in writing on here and you can pretty much bet that one of two things are occurring; either I am at peace or more often than not my life just turned upside down again and I am struggling to figure things out on my own.

I understand more now that there are some blessing that people receive when they are able to help others out. I will go out of my way to help someone when I can and I know the feelings that I get when I help them. I was never really able to associate that feeling that I had by helping others with the feelings that others would be able to have by helping me. I have learned that there are some who look for ways to help people who deserve it and they would rather give to those who need it than those who need it only because they want it. This is still a struggle for me regardless of how they explain it to me. There is a deep guilt I feel when I am given something that I do not feel I deserve or more so, something that I feel should be put to better use helping someone else who needs it more than I do. You see, this stubbornness that I have created has given me strength to suck up the dirt filled air and keep pushing through regardless of the pain. I know there are so many others who have not developed this strength, this hardness, this poor perception of being poor.

I feel that there are those out there who desperately need help and they need it more so than I do. I am very judgmental to those who have so much more when there are so many others in need. Especially when I see a really nice house surrounded by beat up trailers and run downed houses. Those neighborhoods clearly remind me of the differences in status and it eats at me every time I go through and see what is and what could have been. I often wonder what it is that these people who have done in their past life to have been so blessed in this one. I wonder why there are so many others who do not get to have those same blessings. I wonder what it is that I did wrong in my past life to have been cursed to struggle all of this life.

I can’t promise that I will get better at asking for help; after all a scar really never heals. I do try to ask others for help from time to time, often I am left holding my hand out and left waiting for someone else to take it. I feel that there were times when I held out my hand in need of help and it was slapped with feelings of shame and obligation. There were so many times when I was led to believe that I don’t deserve, that I am alone, that this is life; my life. It’s actually a blessing that I am not as poor as others, mainly because I can relate to those in greater need and have some ability to help them, mostly with physical chores or being able to help fix something. I can’t imagine being worse off than I am because I would not survive. This stupid stubbornness and pride prevents me from taking free food because I believe others need it but in reality, this shield I have created prevents me from knowing that maybe I really do need it. I would be the one who would be near death from starvation before crawling to a food shelter.

I have learned that this strength that I have developed is no strength to rely on. It most certainly is a burden that I have built up and have been carrying throughout my life and will have to drag around with me to the end; where ironically, I will have to reach out my empty hand and ask the Lord to please help me once more. There have been many times when I can sense that others feel that I am just so stubborn that I refuse to ask for a simple thing like help. That I am so full of pride that I will refuse to beg for others to help me. I can sense their disapproval and discontent. I can sense their criticism and that only makes my stubbornness stronger and more steadfast. I know there are people who are able and willing to help, and I know there are programs that were designed to help those who are in situations such as those I have seen. I also know that many take advantage of both of these and I cannot be one of those people. I also know that the only way to change the way I feel about how others help me is to allow them to actually do so and that … that is much more difficult than words can make you see.

I just realized that it’s been one year since I have been using this writing to ease my thoughts and share my feelings. Two more things that I don’t do well but with time it has become easier. So here shows one year of sharing these thoughts and hoping they may help others. Maybe time will help with my challenges of relying on others and just maybe in time I will find it easier to hold out my hand when I really need to. To those who have helped me and put up with my flaws, to those who extended their hands to feed me …

Thank you.