Helpless. It is a single word that instantly evokes a great deal of emotional reaction. One of great sadness, one of anger that someone would be a victim and not help themselves, one of lonliness and abandonment, one of the feeling of running in circles accomplishing nothing, one of giving up the fight against seemingly insurmoubtable odds, almost hand in hand with hopeless.
And I think the worst helplessness is not even when it is me feeling helpless about a situation or news I find myself in (my cancer diagnosis 2.5 years ago, maybe stressful finances over an extra bill or the loss of someone we love through a breakup or dissolution of a friendship). I think the most awful helplessness is watching someone we care for going through their own hell knowing that, right now, there is very little to nothing we are able to do. We don’t have the power to take it away, to save someone’s life that has been told their time with us is extremely limited, or someone spiraling downward that is just not ready to fight and pull themselves out of the well of despair one inch up at a time.
But helpless is not hopeless.
Sometimes it needs one to be able to shift to hopeful, from an adjective to a more powerful place that brings hope and moves us forward. It reminds me of the yoga pose Warrior 2 (no I am not all that bendy yet but have been to a few classes). It is a strong pose, at the ready, reaching out. And that is sometimes all we can do. Be at the ready, because there will come a time when helpless is no more, and it may come gently through delivery of a coffee, it may come through silent listening in a safe haven, it may be a hug, it may be the simple phrase “what is one thing I can do for you today” that finally, finally has an answer.
Yes, sometimes we need to surrender and be helpless, but there will come a time when we can be more than that, when we can be strong and either inch ourselves forward to reach out and grasp a helping hand, or it may be us reaching out to meet the hand of the one that has just reached the top of their well, exhausted, still fearful of what lies ahead, but ready to climb, crawl, and maybe even scramble forward, that is no longer helpless but now hopeful.
And until then, perhaps we just continue to pay it forward to others, some whom we have never met before, in hopes that perhaps somehow in some way we are not so helpless in these moments of watching someone we care for struggle. Maybe it is even just self care so that when the time comes we have the strength within ourselves to be helpful.
Wishing you love and the opportunity to be helpful today,