Lately, I have felt like that aging beam in an old house that has been holding all the weight of the structure for years. It used to be new, and strong, and proud. Some strong species of tree made this beam, and it was expertly crafted to support this structure for many many years. Now, from weather and age, it has begun to show signs of fatigue. It bends in the middle. The floor above has begun to slope downward where the bend in the beam lives. It's really only a matter of time before that beam begins to crack, and then breaks. And what will become of the structure above? Will it collapse upon itself? Will it collapse upon me? Will the weight of it all on some damn day just crack the support I have left, and send it all to the basement and land around in piles of splintered wood and rusty nails?
I feel like the worst friend on the planet today. I feel like someone who should be ashamed of herself, of her actions. I did something I don't normally do. I got a text from someone who needed me, and I closed the phone without reply. I read the text, and it felt for a moment like the essence of life had been sucked from my blood for a moment. When I read that sentence, it sounds terribly over dramatic. It sounds ungrateful and cruel. And I wonder if I should even be admitting it to the world. I have been getting a lot of such texts in the last few months. Not from this particular person, but from several people. Asking for help, for support, for advice. And I give it as much as I can. I will sit up on the phone with them. I will meet them for coffee. I will bring them into my home. It's part of who I am, and for a long time it made me happy, fulfilled, to be that person that people came to for help. For support. For a shoulder, and a confidant, and a piece of level headedness in a time of turmoil.
Sometimes though lately, I feel very tired in my soul. My spirit itself starts to feel like a juice pouch that has had all the juice sucked out. Not much else to do with an empty juice pouch but throw it away. Eventually, I think once I stop being useful to people in this capacity, I worry that will be my end. I will be thrown away. But I can't continue to do it. I feel like the more energy I throw into helping others, the more I wick away from myself, from my own soul. Does that even make sense? I can't believe right now that I am even drafting a blog like this. I feel terrible that I don't want to listen to someone who needs me! Who has chosen me out to help them because maybe, just maybe, I really am good at it.
But I am exhausted. In my own life. In my own mind and body and soul. Where has this come from today?
I have been this person for a good portion of my life. I don't know when it started, but it's been part of who I am for a long time. I am the late night phone call when you don't know what else to do, and you have to talk it out, what is in your mind, in your heart, troubling you deep to the very darkest regions of your soul. I know a lot of secrets, and very few of them are mine. I am the sanctuary where it's safe to come and let loose all the worry and the stress and the choking dust of the crackling bricks in your mind as things feel like they are falling apart around you, under you, above you. I am the support beam that will prop you up...your ego, your self worth, your faith in yourself, your choices, and your abilities when you are not sure how you feel about what you are doing or who you are being. I am that person that gets the call. The text. The visit. And up until this morning, I was completely ok with that.
But I'm tired now.
I'm very, very tired in my mind.
And there is more. I am honestly wondering who I am to people beyond this support beam. It's gotten to the point that I hear my phone ping that a text message has been received, and I am getting a flip feeling in my stomach knowing that it's someone who needs me to be that person again. That person that I have grown to not like very much, because she feels bad. She takes on the guilt of those around her. The pain. The troubling emotions. She sucks it into her being hoping that it leaves those she cares about alone for a time. I have been this person for friends, for parents, for coworkers. Sometimes all in one day. Meanwhile in my head, I battled my own demons. Things I have never known how to talk about with anyone, so I sat on, shoved down real deep. I have over the years sucked in so much of the negative that I can barely stand to be around the slightest amount of negative energy anymore. I get anxious. I have to leave the environment immediately. Is this why I have struggled so much with my disease? Am I doing it to myself?
But the most troubling thoughts that I have about how I feel today is...is this all I am to people?
When you look at me, am I seen for who I am? Or just what I can be for you?
When you think of me, am I thought of in a positive light for talents I have beyond the ones that benefit you directly?
When you think of me as a friend, is it for the person I am on all fronts, or the way that I don't ever turn you away when you need help?
Is it my abilities as a mom, as a writer, as a singer, as a baker, as a creative person, a passionate person...or is it my abilities to make you feel better when you are at your lowest?
Am I a terrible person because I am thinking about this? Is it bad that I don't know the answers to those questions? How do I find them? I want to find them.
The support beam has grown warped over time. Moisture from the rainy days have softened the once strong wood. It doesn't splinter and break, but it bends from the weight of the structure above. The structure above has become a warehouse.Every day, the trucks back up to the front of the building. More forklifts pull pallets from the trailers, wheel them inside, and stack them. Higher, higher, heavier, heavier.
No one is going in the basement. No one sees the beam. Sometimes, they notice the floor is sloping. They comment about how it makes it harder for the crates to sit flat. About how it needs to be fixed so the crates will sit flat again.
No one is going in the basement.