You Can’t Help Me Now

It was too cold for my morning coffee walk, so I opted for a drive.

For some time, I was in the belief that I would never return to my hometown. Good memories resided there, but a part of me assumed that the weight of the bad memories, that they would tip the balance of the scales, and crush me. There would be far too much pain, more than I could tolerate, and so once everything was over with, and the house was sold, it made sense to stay away. Little did I know how often I would be drawn back. A friend of mine recently called me a “Townie,” when I told him where I was going to get my inspection sticker. A part of me is anxious about finding a mechanic in the Boston area, while another part of me welcomes the return trip to a place, my hometown, that has never quite left my heart. It’s time for me to come to grips with that fact. It’s time for me to own it.

On a Sunday morning, I hopped in my car and headed for the suburbs. It was cold, but I figured that a cruise in my car, which I rarely drive, and some good music, that the combination would have me shining bright. Add some coffee into the mixture, some time set aside to think, and I would be in a positive head space going into the week. The sun was reflecting off of the white, clean, crystal snow, and it made me remember that while I’ve never loved winter, that there are parts of it that appeal to me. Maybe I’m just finding the silver lining in a season I’ve never been overly fond of, but there was joy in my heart as I drove, a warmth, love, and I’ll never question anything that brings me to this place mentally. Some things have changed for me, but I hope that these types of drives never get old, even though I’ve driven these roads hundreds of times.

I never set a timer on these early afternoon cruises, as there’s no where I have to be, and I like to let things happen organically. Muscle memory takes over. I drive mostly the same roads, as if this time they might somehow be different, as if they might yield something new. It’s a simple pleasure, these Sunday drives, but after each one I’ve taken, I almost always walk away happier, and more at ease. My phone plays music, and aside from that, I make a concerted effort to get lost in the moment, and not to check my texts. I find myself wondering if I’ll ever want a family, given that my time will no longer be my own, and that little pleasures like this will likely go by the wayside. I promise not to get lost in this train of thought, though, I’ll save that post for another time.

It wasn’t until I got home that I started thinking about two years ago, and the time I spent away. I spent nine days in an isolated setting. I did get outside, but I don’t know how much good it really did. It was nice to breathe in the fresh air, but I also remember passing so many people in the crowded hallways, hearing the overlapping voices, a jarring cacophony, and feeling absolutely overwhelmed. I also remember the feeling of my first day back in the world. My stepmother and I walked to a pharmacy, about a mile away, to pick up my medication. Her little dog, my puppy brother, came with us. It was only a mile, and yet, I couldn’t get over how strange the experience was. It didn’t seem like anything had changed, and yet, I’d been removed from it all for a week and a half, and nothing felt the same. It was the beginning of another slow ascent.

Throughout my life, people have given me advice for how to dig myself out, to come back to the world, to be a functioning member of society. I have done my best to accept advice respectfully, even if I’ve hated the words of wisdom that I was offered, even if it made no sense to me. Some have told me to get a job, as it would help to keep me busy, but I don’t think they knew how broken I was, how broken I’ve been. There’s a sense of isolation that’s pervaded my life, and there’s this feeling that almost all people that I meet, that they haven’t experienced what I have, and so that makes it very difficult to want to take directives from anyone else. They all lacked credibility. It’s not how life actually is, it was just my perception at the time.

Of course, the flip side of that is when you trust no one, then you have to trust yourself. My confidence was shattered in my early years of adulthood, and it’s been a long, slow rebuild. I looked for guidance from the universe. I reached deep down, into my soul, whatever that really means. I found myself devoid of any real guidance, and so for years, I struggled to make any progress at all, no matter how you define it. The word rudderless comes to mind, and although I enjoy getting lost during my drives, this was a kind of lost that I didn’t enjoy whatsoever. The word floating also comes to mind. It’s the word that has stuck with me, that seemed to encapsulate my situation so well.

After my mental health episode of two years ago, after some time passed, I was told that it was time to keep going forward, that I couldn’t dwell in the past. The atmosphere of the conversation, it felt so contentious, and I let the moment happen, knowing that while I disagreed with the advice, I wasn’t going to make the situation worse. I could have defended myself, and said my piece, but my mind was already somewhere out the door. I needed to be somewhere else, where nothing was expected of me. I needed to be in a place where I could be myself, where I could fall apart whenever I needed to. I did want to move forward, I just knew that it had to be done slowly. I wasn’t prepared for any big changes, not when my footing was so shaky.

You can’t tell someone how they should feel, and you can’t tell them or show them how to heal. The true beauty of life, as far as I’m concerned, is when you dig into yourself and your own life, explore, get creative, and figure out what it is that works for you. To me, that’s when life gets really special. Every day is a chance to get closer to the the person you want to be. There’s a balance to be struck between wanting to be better, and accepting yourself for who you are in that moment. It’s a dance I hope to perfect.

To me, the best advice isn’t an imposition of someone else’s views regarding what you should do. They don’t have all of the information, and while some people in your life know you better than you know yourself, they’re still not you. Don’t get me wrong, a good friend or family member’s advice can open you up to new possibilities, and I’m not saying you should shun all advice, it’s just rare when someone else knows more about you than you do. To me, the best advice helps you to clarify your own thoughts, and to lead you to the place you want to go. Maybe above all else, it’s a call to trust your own instincts, and the best advice gives you a nudge in the right direction.

I’ve definitely matured and change my perspective, and I offer it to you. Respect the fact that even if people offer you advice that doesn’t make sense, that these people mean well in almost all situations, and are only trying to help, even if their approach could use some serious work. You hope that they respect the fact that their advice isn’t binding, and that you can graciously accept it while choosing to do absolutely nothing with it. You can’t tell someone else how to live. People need to be free to choose and find out what rings true for them. You can evangelize all that you want, but people like to feel empowered, to feel like the choice that they’ve made, that it’s what they wanted.

You can’t help me now. It’s an incredible song, and it’s also a statement. While there is a time and a place for advice, while you may be waiting on someone to save you, to pull you up, ultimately, you are the one that has to decide that they are ready to rise. I’ve had plenty of help, but all the help in the world doesn’t make a lick of difference unless you are willing to accept it, and to put into practice the tools that you are given. To paraphrase a popular saying, therapy does or doesn’t work, depending on your outlook, depending on what level of effort you put in. If you really commit, then in almost all situations, you will get something out of it. If you decide you’re not willing to entertain an alternate point of view, and you don’t want the help, then in most cases, it’s not going to work. You’ll be proven right, and so it will be. I try to avoid absolutes anymore, as almost everything is a shade of gray.

I came home with some ideas, and the writing has been easy and joyful. I am in love with this life that I’m living, even as I acknowledge that there is work to be done, and I have a long way to go. Things are getting better, and a little progress, when you see it for what it is, it can let you know that you are moving in the right direction. You might have had a little help getting there, but you are the one that put in the bulk of the work. It’s all on you. Thanks for reading.


9 thoughts on “You Can’t Help Me Now

  1. Adam,

    So many gems here, positive nuggets for us to consider. Permit me to highlight a few:

    I genuinely smiled that you are blessed with a puppy brother. I can imagine that his tail lovingly wags in your presence.

    Another slow ascent… kudos for selecting your manageable rate of progress and trajectory. Both seem compatible with your character.

    Here’s to perfecting your dance. May it continue to be energizing and bliss filled. Dance on, Usher 🙂

    Being empowered… that is compelling. The fact that you have this active verb in your life is exciting. Hopefully your readers can consider embracing this perspective.

    And ever meaningful “…being in love with the life you are living.” This is a simple yet powerful statement. This reader is smiling at your choice.

    Thanks for another grounding and inspiring message. Your posts are tender and encouraging.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are wise — “You can’t tell someone how they should feel, and you can’t tell them or show them how to heal.”
      The one I dislike most is when someone tells me to ‘get over it’. I don’t want to get over things — I want to go through them.

      Eric led me here, btw.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you for your kind words, and I agree, that’s one that really bothers me. I’ve read it so many times, and it’s so true, what we resist persists. We have to face things if we are going to be able to process them, and ultimately let them go.

        Eric is wonderful. I have very much been enjoying his friendship.

        Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Eric led me here and I’m glad. So much wisdom. I grew up in the ‘burbs of Boston (by Rt. 128) but haven’t been there since cleaning out the family house after the folks died. I might make it back for a visit one day, but it will be to see a few dear friends, not to see my old house. It’s no longer home. Looking forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Eric is wonderful. I guess I thought I’d want to stay away, but I keep coming back. I rarely see the old house, though, as there’s nothing there for me. It’s just a structure now, in an old neighborhood I used to live in. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Powerful writing ~ and reflecting on your experiences and finding a path is not just the toughest thing anyone will have to do in their life, it is also the most rewarding. I look forward to reading more about this journey. “The true beauty of life, as far as I’m concerned, is when you dig into yourself and your own life, explore, get creative, and figure out what it is that works for you. To me, that’s when life gets really special…” I couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It has been very challenging thus far, but I am beginning to see the benefits. Thank you for your kind words, my friend. I am glad that you are along for the journey. I will most likely post this week, and look forward to posting more regularly. Have a great week!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Adam, visiting you from Eric’s blog and his request we visit you.

    Life , is so very interesting, hard and just a lot sometimes.

    I like how you said when you don’t trust anyone, we are forced to trust ourself and the universe. I certainly believe the universe is there and it guides us. We just gotta hear it .
    And with advice of others, we just gotta validate it, with a level head, because sometimes it isn’t for us in our current world, it might be later when we are past the throws if today – if that makes sense.

    All the best. Look forward to reading your thoughts and experiencing.


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