I’m No Super[wo]man

by Susan Pogorzelski on July 2, 2009 · 14 comments

Well, I know what I’ve been told
You gotta know just when to fold
But I can’t do this all on my own
No, I know, I’m no Superman

Lazlo Bane, “I’m No Superman”

im no superman by liel bomburg (flickr)

I had a rough start at the beginning of the week, a culmination of several situations over the course of the past few weeks, days, that reached a boiling point and erupted in a torrent of emotion. It was a time of weakness, I would say, but I know that isn’t right.

Rather, it was a time of being human.

I stand by everything I wrote, though I wrote it while emotion was running high and I felt my strength was running low. Those fears have abated, my strength is restored, but the sentiments, the questions, still remain, retreating deep again. Because I don’t know if I’ll ever have answers, though I may have some sense of understanding. I may have peace.

This wasn’t a test for me. This wasn’t a challenge, though it felt like one as I cursed the Universe out. It may not have even been a lesson to be learned.

But it was a chance. A chance to realize what I have, in the face of what I’ve lost, in the fear of what I could lose.

I don’t really know how to ask for help when I need it most, and, truth be told, I felt ashamed that I needed to. I think I thought that I’m supposed to be some kind of superwoman — able to handle anything that life throws at me with ease.

Only, I’m no superwoman. I’m just human. And it’s not always so easy.

And I think I thought that I had to carry all that myself, holding up my world, trying not to bend and break from the weight of it all, trying to still be there for others as I struggled to keep myself upright.

Only, I can’t take on the world. At least, not always by myself. I needed a bit of back-up.

I needed someone.

In never wanting to place the burden on someone else, I ended up placing all of it upon myself, but that weight is sometimes too much for one person, causing more harm than good. Everyone needs someone at times, even the fiercely independent types. And I’ve been foolish to think otherwise, to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness.

Because I’ve realized that there’s a strength in numbers, and your family and friends and community are there, answering your plea, though it’s sometimes a silent one. I’ve found that they will hear you when you’re unable to say the words, urging you to transfer some of that weight onto their shoulders, willing because they care just as much. I’ve discovered that sense of relief when you realize independence doesn’t mean being alone, that the people who surround you will hold you up when you feel ready to fall.

And I’ve realized that even Superwoman had her back-up, just as I have mine. And she only needed to speak up, ask for help, and they would be there: ready and waiting.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Stephens July 2, 2009

I’ll never forget this poster my orthodontist had on the ceiling of his practice when I was younger. There was 1 person walking on a beach. At first there were two sets of footsteps behind the person, and then there weren’t any. It said something to the effect of, “God will walk beside you when you times get tough, and he’ll carry you when they get really tough.”

Regardless of your religious practices, I thought it was really compelling and could be applied to friends, family, etc.

I’m very fortunate I am so close with my friends and family. As my Mom always says, “I’m only a phone call away.” They’ve certainly helped me through plenty, though admittedly, I’m sometimes a “stubborn guy.” I wonder if we’re even worse than our opposite sexed brethren because we’re supposed (as society dictates) to be the strong masculine males. I will admit it’s nice to have close female friends for some instances when it’s less comfortable talking to my guy friends.

In any event, I’m glad you came out the other side of your adversity with what sounds like some great lessons learned!

R

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Harl Delos July 2, 2009

Yes, there is strength in numbers, but if remember that Limburger cheese is strong, too.

I don’t think you need to apologize for what you wrote last time; by the time I got to the end of it, I was recognizing a strength in you growing as you approached the end of the post, a strength that I figured you would see in another twenty minutes.

Obviously, I figured wrong. Well, yes, you’re no superman, but you don’t need to be. You’re certainly strong enough.

Even identical twins get born single-file, and we die one at a time, too. Once in a while, people find each other, and it’s a beautiful thing, but that’s not enough. As Ricky Nelson sang:

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same
But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Hang in there, babe. Things get a lot easier as you approach 35 or 40.

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Elisa July 2, 2009

Well, you know that I am going thru much of the same feelings you are currently (our blogs are almost running concurrent to each other this week!) Because of that I really have no “advice” or “insight” to offer. Heck, I’m a spinning swirling closed off scared little girl deep inside!

All I know is that life seems to be a constant set of challenges and adversities, and what separates us from the mediocrity of it all is our ability to rise up and accept those things head on. It isn’t necessarily always working harder or having to be a superwoman, but it IS about making the most of the situations. The tough part, of course, is figuring out how to pull yourself out of the trenches when the situations present themselves. And I think you are completely right, the biggest part of pulling yourself out is finding the courage to ask for help or even just support and comfort when the times have gotten tough!

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Sam July 2, 2009

Susan, it takes a lot of strength to come to this realization, and even more to write about it. As we’ve talked a lot about this week, it’s harder for some of us to reach out and ask for help when we need it. When you’re so used to giving and being there for others, you don’t really think about a time when you might need the roles reversed. I’m glad you found that you have quite the support system. Maybe it will be a little easier for you to lean on those people the next time you need them. But if not, that’s okay too. You’re a wonderful person and you have a lot of people who care about you. Beautiful post!

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Corvida Raven July 3, 2009

And what if you feel like you don’t have that type of support system? What would you do if the issue was more of a lack of motivation rather than a lack of support that led to feelings of isolation or burden? What suggestions would you offer?

I understand where you’re coming from and I feel as though I’m in the same place and I have no idea which way to go and the whole thing really makes me want to cry, but you try to push on as much you can. Sometimes, it still feels like it’s not enough and the people who would love to help, aren’t always in a position to do so.

Thanks for writing this posting Susan.

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Susan Pogorzelski - admin July 6, 2009

Ryan: I remember reading a poem of the same vein when I was younger…”When you see only one set of footprints in the sand, it was then that I carried you.” I may not have gotten it verbatim, but that had such a huge impact on me and I never really forgot it.

Except that I did forget it. I forgot that, as you reminded me, it can apply to your own life, with friends and family being that person who can carry you. Because sometimes we all need to be carried (and maybe ignore those stubborn tendencies!) 😉

Thanks, Ryan — for your comment, for the reminder, and for your encouragement and friendship.

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Susan Pogorzelski - admin July 6, 2009

Harl: I appreciate you taking the time to comment on this post. It’s funny that you say that you recognized a strength growing by the end of the post because I’ve noticed that trend with me; it’s pretty much why I have the blog…I’m filled with heavy emotion but by the time I’m finished writing, I can make sense of it. I have hope.

Admittedly, that heavy emotion stayed with me longer than I expected this time, and it took me awhile to understand where it was coming from and thus get over it. But I did. I have. I’ve learned that I can lean on others, and that’s not a point of weakness, but maybe just a redistribution of strength.

Harl, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this comment, your thoughts, and your support. Thanks for your words and thanks, always, for your friendship.

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Susan Pogorzelski - admin July 6, 2009

Elisa: I still love your post on spinning — it’s probably the one that has struck the deepest chord with me because there are so many ways I can relate to it. When you’re spinning, you’re on your own. And you know that eventually you’re going to tumble over and lose your balance — it’s maybe inevitable. But what I’m learning lately is that there will be people there to catch you. And it’s ok to let them. Who knew?

I love your comment, Elisa, and as much as I hate that we seem to be running parallel, as you say, because of what that means, I’m grateful that there are others who can relate. I especially love this line:

“All I know is that life seems to be a constant set of challenges and adversities, and what separates us from the mediocrity of it all is our ability to rise up and accept those things head on.”

There is so much truth and wisdom in those words. I really think that says it all.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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Susan Pogorzelski - admin July 6, 2009

Sam: You have been such a wonderful support and a great, dear friend. I hope you know that every comment and conversation is taken to heart and appreciated, and all that you’ve done for me is a thousand times returned.

Regarding your comment, I think you nail what has been the hardest part for me with this line: “When you’re so used to giving and being there for others, you don’t really think about a time when you might need the roles reversed.”

That’s exactly it. I love this role — I wouldn’t willingly put myself in it if I didn’t genuinely want to help people and see them happy. But I think there also comes a time where we have to help ourselves, and part of that is by accepting the help and support from others. Which is easier said than done, as I’ve found, but so important.

I hope I’ll continue to recognize this when I need it. I do know, now, that I have that back-up when that time comes. Thanks for the comment, Sam. And thanks for everything.

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Susan Pogorzelski - admin July 6, 2009

Corvida: It was such a pleasure to talk with you the other afternoon! And I know we kind of discussed this and our situations as well, but I hope to reiterate what I believe — I think support systems are everywhere, just going by different names: family, friends, community, networks. I’ve found support systems in the most surprising (and sometimes unlikely) of places, as I think you and I both discovered 😉

I don’t have all of the answers, clearly, though I wish I did for you. Maybe the idea really is to keep pushing on, as you say, to keep hanging in there. Maybe you take what people can give and use that to build your strength, your motivation.

I’m not sure, as I’m still discovering this for myself, still learning. But I do know that there are people there to help you along the way if you need it — even it if it’s just in a simple phone call. Maybe, sometimes, someone just being there is really all we need.

Thanks for your comment, Corvida. I hope everything works out and wish you the very, very best!

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