The Beast of Burden

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to burden you.”

Few phrases have the power to push me off the cliff like this one.  It’s not good  from anyone, but it becomes intolerable for me from intimate family, friends, and partners.

Let’s start with the idea that if there is love between two people, that communicating about life’s downs as well as ups is ever a problem.  Life is not all about good news and confetti parties, and it is in the moments when that reality is crystal clear that we most need to share and support one another.  There is no obligation to share necessarily, but if you choose not to, it seems rather weak to claim you are staying private because you think someone who loves you can’t manage it.

There are also all the things people don’t know about the consequences of “protecting” loved ones from “burden.”  Choices were made about a year ago to not contact me when my husband had been in a serious car accident.  I was on an airplane, and those involved thought it was a “burden” to let me know ASAP what had happened, that it could wait until I was on the ground and see that he was safe.

What those who made this choice didn’t understand is that with those I love, in the moment I am very connected.  There is strength in that connection, and power, and trying to mitigate that in any way is not a good idea.

I had a post earlier about Papa Bear.  I leave you simply with the correlative point:  Don’t mess with Mama Bear, either.

Photo credit: Josh Ackerman

4 thoughts on “The Beast of Burden

  1. Have you seen the cover of Newsweek?
    Seriously, though, I agree. The impulse, especially of parents, is to “protect” their children from bad news and worrying. It makes sense but I think it is generally misguided. Life happens, and we gotta know the ins and outs to deal with it properly.
    OTOH, your friends and family were in a tough spot. I know I’d want to know, but would I WANT to know? I suppose I’d rather panic sooner than later, get it over with.

    • Just looked up Newsweek, oh my! No! I had no idea I had a metaphor in commom with Sarah P. Well…..no one’s wrong about everything. 🙂

      I agree, tough spot. But life is tough, man. I need to know these things, and need to know them when they happen. That’s me. If someone would rather not know, that’s cool for them.

  2. EDG, I feel as though I lurk here a lot and think and don’t always let you know you’ve given me something to mull over because it would take time to craft the thoughts in a post-worthy way.

    My family must have some great attachment to the “not wanting to burden you” thing. I found out my mom was in the hospital once because I happened to call home and my dad couldn’t had to explain why she hadn’t answered the phone. My brother and I joke about it, but every now and then it’s good to remember that we joke because joking is a way to deal with our family’s not-particularly-healthy approach to difficult news.

    • You are welcome to lurk anytime, but you are a very insightful person and I know your comments open up the ideas in posts for even more dialogue and understanding. The whole dynamic is a very complex thing. I am a staunch defender of privacy, and while I sometimes disagree with family members’ choices I support the right to keep things private. What I can’t support is using the excuse that someone else can’t handle it. No….no. There is something that the person making the choice to not disclose can’t handle. Be honest. That’s what I’m looking for…..

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