If you’ve been around here for a bit, you know that I subscribe to the Culture Study newsletter from Anne Helen Petersen. I think I started for her commentary on toxic jobs (heh) but the stuff she writes about communities of care is what I can’t get enough of lately.
I could pull quote just about the entire newsletter from last week, about why it’s hard to accept help:
You haven’t been around examples of healthy community or dependence — particularly within your family — and don’t have models of what it means to safely ask for help. This is particularly true for people whose independence is, in some way, a trauma response, but I also think it’s true of people who grew up in homes where the adults were solitary or isolated, or where everyone in the family talked shit about other members of the family who asked for help.
But the meat of the article is a document template for outlining what help you would need and want most (food, errands, a walk, etc.). Then you can send your answers to your friends and family and they can fill theirs out and suddenly you’re not in the loop of “What can I do?” “Oh nothing, it’s ok.”
In summation, THIS:
It’s wrong to think of community as tit-for-tat, I-give-so-I-get, but offering care invites engagement….and accepting care models vulnerability. We cannot assume that others don’t have space to care for us, just as we cannot convince ourselves that we do not have space for others. You are not a burden; you are beloved.