“Why the World Needs Superman” (or “I’m leaving Metropolis”)

Okay, maybe the world doesn’t need “Superman,” but it might be nice to see some evidence of this phenomenon in my own working world.

“Are you drowning or waving? Just need you to save me.”

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not looking for any so-called man to come take my problems away from me. At this rate I’d accept the emotional aid of Superwoman or, hell, even elicit the assistance of Metropolis Kid (thanks to Max Landis for that visual). I just want some truth. And even Superman himself gets help from time to time.

This is what I tend to get.

I work day in and day out to “rescue” others. I have done so much to alter the timelines of others and I don’t even notice it. It’s become routine. Another life saved. Another crisis averted. Another person “rehabilitated”. Need a shoulder to cry on? Well, that’s what I’m here for.  I have no desire to save the world. I just wanted to make a little bit of change towards the positive.

“It’s a beautiful world. Everyone’s insane. Either you swim. Either you fade.”

Life is about balance (or so the infamous They tend to say), and seeing as how I tend to float on either ends of any spectrum and never the middle, I’ve had trouble with that little concept. I’m your regular fixer-upper this week and in next week’s show I’ll be catatonic.

And it goes unnoticed. Here, folks, is where we segway into a more personal realm. Slowly but surely we will get there.

You see, since I was a child I dreamed that I would be a classic career woman. I wanted to be strong, fiercely independent, and fighting tooth and nail for what I felt was right in the world. Somehow this also equated to success. Fast forward to a bachelor’s degree that was equivalent to a high school diploma in terms of pay grade. Now fast forward again to a master’s degree ridden with politics, backbiting, and brow-beating. I refused to continue on to the PhD program where I would probably crack under the pressure of anything that didn’t have to do with, I dunno, the ACTUAL school work.

And all I wanted to do was help people.

I don’t smile nearly enough to be Supergirl, myself.

The lines became blurred. I wanted to help in the larger picture, and I did not feel like I was always doing a lot of that at work. I wanted to contribute to my karmic bank since things were a little muddied already, even though I didn’t quite understand why. Someday- just someday- I’ll see the fruits of my hard labor. I extended myself to others. Correction: I over-extended myself to others.

Yes, that’s my fault. Entirely. Completely. I tried to be Super-something.

When you give assistance to those day in and day out in a field where it is perfectly acceptable for the workers to be emotionally and verbally abused on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, you become tired. No. You become exhausted. Used up. Discarded. You want someone to extend a helping hand to you. Then again, there’s a message being sent out by peers, supervisors, parents, colleagues, professors- a message that says it is never acceptable to ask for help. Be self-sufficient. And this was the message I had growing up in my little community. Never be seen crying. And for that matter, never cry. Never sigh. Never break.

Not even when clients throw things at you. Not even when you are attacked. Not even when you are subpoenaed to testify against those you strive to help. Not even when you are harassed and stalked.

Even if Superman did show up, my bad attitude would reign supreme.

No one ever defined success for my young mind. You just knew it if you had it. You were better. You were stronger. You were “fiercely” independent. You exuded it. By all definitions of my childhood dreams I should consider myself successful by appearances alone. I have no needs other than stress-induced illnesses. Even with my ridiculously pathetic salary vs. student loan debt, I am generally comfortable in terms of finances. That’s not to say I don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But I do have the means to pay my bills and I am fine. I’m very competent. I am very quick.

I contributed to others in my professional life. I contributed to others in my personal time by volunteering.  I am my career, after all.

But I am so uncomfortable. Doing what I do, and doing what, well, anyone does- there’s needs to be a support system put into place. Mine is nil. How sad. “Practice what you preach, woman! Get a support group!” they say as they walk out the door.

“It’s a revolution time. We’re sleeping at the wheel.”

I neglect my spirituality for my work. I neglect my own needs for those of others. I stand on hold waiting for those who need me. If I’m not available, I will be left behind.

I’m already so far behind. How did things end up so confused?

“You made a mess of yourself.”

Happiness. Oh yes. The American Dream… Happiness was never defined in that, was it? Husband. 2.5 kids. A dog. A white picket fence. Career. The hell with needing Superman. I am Superwoman.

That’s laughable.  I spend more time in fantasy land than I do on this earth, in all truth. “I have lived so many lives all in my head” I started doing some soul searching. Doing something to further evaluate what I need to succeed in my remaining years here. And by succeed, I mean “be happy.” Escaping to another world as someone else only goes so far, and it certainly doesn’t help me grow. And I would hate to write crappy sci-fi/horror novels about other worlds and poorly coordinated love stories, though this appears to be all the rage. Hey, I actually might make a penny or two…

“I resigned from myself. Took a break as someone else.”

I digress. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for support when you need it. I maintain this as a truth.

But then…

When I started this, so many people were taken aback and almost offended that I needed a shoulder to cry on. I tried to play this off as my own insecurity. I mean, these were the same folks I’ve been listening to all these months and years. Surely they can reciprocate just this once? They all knew I was a tortured soul, in a sense. I wore my pain on my sleeve, but I wore it with such irreverent sarcasm that people were simply amused. I was just another clown in the circus. Smile, even if that smile is dripping with insincerity. And when I opened up, the crowd cleared. The audience wasn’t entertained anymore. The illusion, again cracked, became so obvious and they became very bored. People left. But all the world is a stage. Help? The answer is an overwhelming No.

Oh my. It appears that I’ve gone to the realm of the Emo. See you next Tuesday.

Don’t get me wrong. I have found some truly awesome people in my lifetime. I heard some great life stories, and some tragic tales as well. I thought I was making real connections with real people. And then they disappeared. Maybe they had more important things to do. Maybe they needed to focus on protecting themselves. I get that.

And after a while, I chose to become the one who disappeared.

Even in recent weeks “too little too late” is the theme. After months and months of neglect, people are trying to make up for lost time. After months and months of being lectured, judged, forgotten about, and leaned upon so heavily that even Super-Me fell, I can’t seem to get back up. I reach. And I can see some people trying in their own ways. They grab at straws, but they won’t grab my hand. It’s all a bit heavy, after all.

“Too little, too late.”

 

“Can’t you see my hands are clean?”

Is it selfish to have expectations of others? Is it selfish to ask for help every now and again? That’s the message I am getting. Simply put, if it is selfish to ask for help, then what does that mean about the histories of every person I’ve extended a helping hand out to? And where is this balance I’ve been told to seek? Do I seek solace? Do I stand up on my own two feet again? How can I do that without feeling the burning resentments? Do I start isolating to help protect myself from others who need help? Hell, do I join a monastery? The questions get a little more and more ridiculous and extreme.

No. I know that these are all doubts. These are all the messages of negativity and insecurity I have allowed myself to sink deep into the edges of my soul. Every day is a battle against subconscious messages from a lifetime of “selflessness.” Every day is a battle against subconscious neglect- messages that everyone else ever will always be more important. Everyone else’s needs must come first. For always and ever. It is selfish to have expectations. It is selfish to need. It is selfish to want. It is selfish to ask. It is selfish to fail. It is selfish to seek happiness for yourself.

“And the barriers are all self-made.”

So you see I have this dichotomy that lives inside. Yes, I know I need support in order to continue giving and supporting others. But that support doesn’t just happen. It takes work. It takes asking for it. It takes recognizing it. See the above paragraph of dysfunction. See the above history.
Some people say I need to have faith. To trust.

Is it selfish to ask for Superman‘s help?
“Superman is dead.”
So it is on me, then. Okay. I suppose that’s the truth.

Oh  my gosh! I forgot that you don’t talk about your problems, either. It’s just tacky.

I forgot that you aren’t supposed to actually talk about things. My bad. Let’s talk about kittens and lolcats instead!

“Well, time is running fast upon your reflection. Trust me now.”

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