Imagine your worst day, when your fears and frustrations have grown even larger than the troubles before you. Things have reached the point where you are incapable of handling the crisis alone.
Now imagine whom your first call would be to, the arms you want to hold you while you cry. Picture the one who could ease your mind with words and make things better with a hug.
If someone came to mind while you read my words, a specific person or even more than just one, be grateful; you are a lucky person.
Bad times let us know who is there for us.
I recently found myself in trouble, and reached out only to discover that I had no one to run to. Instead of friendly faces, I had to trust on a complete stranger with my vulnerability. While I was grateful for the help, I was sad to see that no one who knew me was there to help.
I wrote in my diary: “She was always strong for those seeking her strength and shelter, but when she was worn out she found no one to be strong for her. Not their job!”
I know I had the total right to say this, to be disappointed and lonely, but I have since changed my perspective on the experience.
Maybe being there for others is my thing. Why should you tell someone to stop doing good things for others to force people to value them? What if giving is someone’s superpower, to give waiting for nothing in return, to have a heart endlessly tender that would heal others’ wounds? Maybe they will find strength from their tenderness in moments of weakness.
But just because it is a superpower does not mean you won’t get tired.
For years I’ve been telling my mother to stop constantly making sacrifices for her children and to think of herself for a change.
You can help others but every now and then you can help yourself too. You have the right to get tired and want to help no one anymore since you receive no gratitude – and you know when you reach this point. Stop, give yourself a break; give yourself some time just for yourself.
I learned that, if someone thinks of you as a shelter, someone can trust you enough with their secrets and weak points, someone can get naked before you, intellectually before physically, to show you their darkest thoughts, even if you don’t like them, you are a lucky person. If you don’t know that, then you have no idea what a nice word can do, what a warm hug can do, or how much empathy can help someone.
You should never give up your kind heart just because someone was unable to appreciate it. And make sure to tell others “thank you,” because those two magic words may be just the thing that keeps them from giving up themselves.
Mariem Sherif is an Egyptian medical student who believes that words can heal a wound, that in each and every one of us there is something special and that in details lies another great different life for those who notice.