Saturday, September 9, 2017

Help: It really is a Land of Enchantment

I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the wedding of a cousin's grandson. Unfortunately, two days before flying here I managed to get a horrendous cold, bordering on pneumonia. I arrived in the Land of Enchantment in much discomfort, but somehow made my expected appearance at a Friday night rehearsal dinner.

Meanwhile, my wife, on business in California and supposed to meet me in Albuquerque (it's her cousin, dammit!), had her flight cancelled and couldn't get in until midnight.

It's my long habit of personally delivering my wife to and retrieving her from airports when she travels. That saves cab fares and enables opportunity for much conversation. I like it.

But after the rehearsal dinner last night, Cousin Nancy was pretty sure she should "help" me, since I was sick, by picking up my wife and letting me sleep. I tried to explain that is just isn't "help" if I don't want it, and I was certain I would sleep better most of the night if I picked up my wife at midnight myself. So I set my alarm and figured I would rest from 10:00 to 12:00.

At quarter to twelve, I heard the door close. Nancy had gotten up and left fifteen minutes ahead of me, having decided unilaterally that she knew what I wanted better than I did. I was actually pretty pissed. But it seemed important not to spoil the family weekend with acrimony, so I got up and walked around the house for an hour, thinking about why people do things like this.

She should have simply said, "Listen, you're staying at my house, and I'm afraid you're too sick, so I'm not going to allow you to get up at midnight and drive to the airport, and since I am in charge, you'll just have to do as I say!" ... I would not have been offended, and I would have happily relented. Orders are orders.

But the pretense, "Oh, I just want to help," when in actual fact control is being exerted over the top of a disagreement, and tricking or invalidating or overwhelming the person you're pretending to "help", is extremely offensive. It's probably the biggest reason people refuse help. They've learned that those who say they want to help in fact want to overwhelm and control.The proclaimed "helpers" want a shortcut, they want to cheat because they are not smart enough to change a person's mind. They are unwilling to communicate with another live human being.

Help has to be honest, and it has to be acceptable to the person being helped, or it's just not help. Psychiatry is 99% covert, coercive control under a false guise of medicine. People hate that, and it's not necessary. Just tell the truth, like my cousin Nancy could have.

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