Archive for August 8th, 2011

I learned a lot last week by watching my friend deal with rejection without experiencing shame. That was a new experience for me, so I thought I would blog about it.

My friend had to have outpatient surgery last week, and I was scheduled to take her to the surgery, wait with her, take her home, and look after her until her mother got home from work. The day before the surgery was scheduled, my kid got sick. By the night before, he was congested and coughing – just a cold, but too sick to go to camp the next day.

I worked out childcare, getting a friend to babysit during the surgery and then a relative to transport my son to my friend’s house so I could tend to both of them. However, my friend didn’t want to “inconvenience” so many people and asked her relatives if any of them could help out instead. That kicked off WWIII. You would have thought she was asking for a $100,000 loan by their reaction. She said “never mind,” and we put my plan into motion, which went just fine.

I have been in similar situations too many times to count – so many times that I expect the tiniest of family favors to have to be repaid with a major organ. So, I very rarely ask family for anything. I do it myself, ask a friend, or do without. My friend is the same way, which is why I was so surprised that her reaction was very different from what mine would have been.

My friend was understandably angry and hurt by her family’s reaction. However, at no point did she seem to feel shame over it, which really surprised me. When I am in that position, I feel shame. I feel like I am not worthy of being taken care of and that there is something fundamentally wrong with me that makes my own family members react like that. Even though I know that they are being self-centered and unreasonable, I still believe that I would be treated differently if I wasn’t so fundamentally unlovable.

It was eye-opening to me to watch another person react to the same situation in a different way. Don’t get me wrong – she was hurt and angry: she just didn’t turn that hurt and anger inward. I want to learn how to do that!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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