Caring and Kindness Needed

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, felt like a rat when she made it difficult for a friend who was homeless after Hurricane Irma.Doing a good thing doesn’t count for much of anything unless you do it with caring and kindness. Knowing how loss hurts, I want to be helpful and do nice things for others. But too often I lose track of my caring and kindness. I forget how to support someone in pain.

At the end of last weekend, I cried when my son left town. Miserable in my empty house, I tried to feed the hole in my heart with ice cream. I made popcorn, and watched three episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Nothing helped. It felt like grieving and loss, all over again.

After days of mourning I got back to appreciating the quiet house, and loving the privacy where I could dance wildly with the dog and sing to my dead daughter. Except for all the TV images of people suffering severe losses in hurricanes, I was feeling fairly comfortable when I got an email from one of my friends in Florida, “Hi. I’m homeless. Do you have a room…?”

Right away I emailed back, yes, she could have my guest room. But before hitting SEND, I listed all the reasons why she wouldn’t want to stay in my home: the smelly dog, the neighbor coming and going, lights out at 9:30, no storage space available, meetings with writers and bereaved parents scheduled there at all hours…. And I made a list of My New House Rules, which I didn’t include in the email but meant to have ready in case she still accepted my offer after reading all the listed conditions and deficiencies. I almost phoned her to talk her out of the idea of staying in my home. But she’d already (almost immediately) emailed me back. And there was so much relief and gratefulness and joy in her email – that I suddenly felt like a rat.

 

Did you ever lose your caring and kindness? Your patience? What animal do you turn into when you aren’t at your finest?

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8 thoughts on “Caring and Kindness Needed

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I get it, Robin. We can only take care of so much. I’m learning from experience as I sink under the weight of giving to others what I don’t have left to give. I’m trying to learn how to say no and getting the hang of it. Slowly. I’m glad your friend didn’t need you in the end so you don’t have to chastise yourself. I’m glad I could step back from a few obligations and begin figuring out how to nurture myself.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Elaine. I’m not sure why these things should be so difficult for us. Stepping back, saying No, being gentle with ourselves…. Good thing you’re learning to do these. I’m still struggling with guilt (mostly) every time I even think of giving myself a break. I’m sinking in all this “experience” but there’s something majorly attractive to it. Addictive maybe. It just feels so darn good to help, to make a difference for someone else.

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, I could identify totally with you here. I like my private space, and while theoretically I think it would be wonderful to share it with those in need, I don’t really want to do it! Hope things work out smoothly with your guest, and that she doesn’t need to stay for long. Thanks for your honesty.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yeah, I want a housemate and yet I want the privacy. Hard to have both at once. And sometimes it’s difficult to be generous with a pure heart. A work in progress, must try harder. We are all works in progress, I think. Cheers, Lynne.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I think she must have read my blog. She didn’t show up and when I phoned her, she said she was going to stay with someone else. She was going to call me when she had time to meet up for dinner but she never did. Don’t know what to make of it except that I wasn’t being the kindest friend in all of this. Maybe neither of us was being kind.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Gayle. I’m trying hard to be honest. It’s embarrassing a lot of the time. Learning to live with embarrassment. Cheers!

      Reply

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