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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"I'll be there for you."

No, I'm not channeling the ubiquitous repeats of Friends. But you all knew that phrase, right? You've probably heard it dozens, maybe hundreds of times in your lifetime, from various people. It's one of a collection of Things People Say that sound good. "Call me anytime." "If you need me, I'm always here." "Lean on me." "You can depend on me."

Well-intentioned people who promise you the moon and stars, if you'll just reach out and ask for it. 

I wish they'd stop doing that.

Because, as much as they want to be, no one can always be there for you. And to set people up with that sort of expectation sounds nice at the time, but it ends up hurting, disappointing, and disillusioning. 

I don't begrudge others this inability to always be there. There's a reason I never say phrases like that -- because I know I can't deliver. I mean, I can, sometimes. But not always. So I'm not going to say I can, just because it sounds good.

People have lives. People have jobs, children, pets, errands, chores, hobbies, crises, responsibilities. People need to sleep. People shut their phones off when they're in a movie theater (and they really should shut the damn things off in several other places too, but that's another subject). How many folks do you know who can simply sit by a phone 24/7 in case someone needs them? Yeah, we have cell phones now, so supposedly we're accessible at all times. When I was young, if someone wasn't home, you couldn't reach them. Period. No cell phones, no voice mail, no texting, no IMs, nothing. It was the telephone, or in person, or nothing. Not so now.

But guess what? If a person is busy, or if a person doesn't want to be reached, they are still unreachable. You can leave voice mail, email, texts, and send a carrier pigeon to poop on their head, but there will be times they still won't reply to you. That's reality.

So why make these lofty promises that you can't possibly keep? Is it because you want to seem like a good friend? A hero? A rock? News flash. I'd rather have someone not promise me anything at all, than set me up and let me down. That affects my trust. That affects my confidence. That affects my feeling of being cared about.

When I was in 12-step programs, they had what they called sponsors -- people who would be a sort of mentor and teacher, your friend, to help you with your stuff. People gave each other phone numbers. It was the 80s, so it was still landlines and office numbers. And members told me I could call them "anytime, day or night." Well, I didn't. Because, frankly, I thought that was rude and invasive. And also, because I really didn't expect them to be there for me, day or night. If someone is that available, they can't have much of a life.

I suppose some 24/7 D/s relationships insist that a sub is accessible at any hour, any day, any time. As I recall, John has known some really pushy dommes who expected him to answer his phone at all hours, and be ready to do whatever they wanted at the drop of a command. Fine. Let them spend their lives sitting by a phone. I, and most of the people I know, have a lot more to do.

Again, I applaud the sentiment. The words are said with the kindest of intentions. But I wish people would start getting real. What many of them promise is impossible.

And nothing feels worse than when you believe them, you pocket your pride and that squicky, uncomfortable feeling that you're intruding or interrupting, you make yourself willing to be vulnerable, and you reach out... and they aren't there for you after all.

I recall an old Ziggy cartoon (remember Ziggy?), where he's staring mournfully at the reader and saying, "Maybe people, who need people, really aren't the luckiest people in the world." I think the poor little guy was right. Neediness doesn't pay. Best to be as self-reliant as you can, and find your strength within. Because people are just too damn busy these days. They may want to be there for you, and sometimes, if you're lucky, they are. But never count on it.

So... what's my point? Please, stop promising things you can't possibly deliver. Stop promising to always be there, because you can't. Stop setting people up to believe they have their own personal Rock of Gibraltar. Because you're made of mere flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. You have your own issues, your own stress and pain to deal with. We all do, and I don't expect you to deal with mine, I really don't. Unless you tell me, insist to me, that you want to and you will. And then, because I'm a mere mortal myself, one with needs, I believe.

I'm grateful I'm more of a loner. Because honestly, needing sucks. The more I need, the more I hurt.


  1. What happened to inspire this writing? While I know you are grateful to be a loner, this post is overflowing with pain and hurt. My personal opinion is that we DO have a right to believe those closest to us when they promise to be there for us - not 24/7 every day of the year, but when times get extra hard and support, encouragement, and help is needed. Even when that need might arise at an inconvenient time. That's what love does. I am sorry that someone has let you down, breaking their promise to be there for you. That's on them, not you.


  2. I'm sorry you're feeling a let down. I agree it's not wise to invest too much into others' good intentions. People say one thing and do something else completely different. I have learned to tune out empty promises from others. Self reliance is a person's best friend. While it's great to have support from loved ones I don't have faith in the promise of those who offer the sun and the moon. I am happy for small offerings. :)

  3. Erica, I agree with your essay on "I'll be there for you". But it is said to someone, to make them FEEL GOOD, when there happens to be maybe a CRISES in their lives. As for the ROCK; OF GIBRALTAR. I've been there, and I have a photo with one of the MONKEYS sitting on top of my HEAD. And when some people saw the photo, they asked me with a wink in their eye. Which one is the MONKEY. True story. XXX Luv ya.

  4. I've been there for a lot of people, but I have never been able to expect the same in return which usually leaves me hurt and disappointed. I've also been there so much for someone else that I end up feeling used which also sucks. I've noticed it is easier to reach out through blogging or sending an e-mail...that way I don't feel like I'm being pushy or intruding. I still feel vulberable but now I feel better because I've written it down and maybe a reader can offer some advice or share a similar experience. Right now, I'm feeling pretty vulnerable and needy...I'm just not entirely sure what to do about it yet. It is also hard to come up with a plan when things keep changing! (sigh)

    If you'd like to send me an email, I can at least promise a response...unless my internet goes out or my computer dies. Guess I could type a response on my phone...that would suck on this iPhone 4s, but I would do it for you! :-) Hope this made you smile! (Hugs)

  5. Pam -- I think people can promise to be there on a case-by-case basis. But life and circumstances often interfere with one's good intentions. That's why I say it's best not to count on them. It goes against the societal expectation and all the feel-good homilies, but I'm more about reality. Because nearly every time I slip back into allowing my neediness, I get hurt.

    Kelly -- yes, small offerings and gestures can really flip a switch, can't they?

    Six -- I understand why people say those things. I know it's meant to make a person feel good and supported. But they are ultimately empty if you cannot back them up with action. Yet people still make the promises. Why?

    Jay -- you're sweet. I am on the same page as you -- I happen to prefer the written outreach over the phone call. And I do believe you would reply! ♥ I hope your roller coaster ride smooths out soon.

  6. You write well. You're lovely. I like you as you put yourself into your writing. I am glad you are here when I check. Take care during this rough patch.


  7. Down and let down. I've a lot of experience with being down; less with being let down only because I rarely shared my pain.

    I have a different experience with my 12 step program. I haven't called my sponsor or others frequently over the years (I'm phonephobic) but I still go to meetings (7 a.m. 2 blocks from work) several times a week. We have a fluctuating small group of 10 to 20 people. Several recent crises (son arrested after not calling home for months; daughter skipped finals at Comm College and then getting evicted and moving home) without resorting to my addiction (Bill's) or my substitute (junk food). I can voice my pain and final a lot of empathy. Talking out the pain really helps ... me. You mention preferring writing so what works for me will probably not work for you.

    I've failed at being there for several people over the decades. The failures haunt me. The successes (I'd like to think there have been more) vanish from memory easily these days.

    Erica, our worlds are very different I expect. I'm going to give you here my email if you want to share any of the pain in written form. I am a guy so my default reaction is to offer solutions. What I may have learned is simply to listen, listen and validate. I'll tried to avoid the solutions.

    PS I'll immediately break my resolution: Get some sunshine. Jon

  8. Mark -- you honor my father with that first compliment, so extra special thank you for that.

    Jon -- that's very kind of you. I'm sorry about the recent crises. And I'm glad you have an outlet that works for you. Oh, and sunshine is overrated. It gives you wrinkles and skin cancer.

  9. I've "been there" for people and found that in most cases they developed a very short memory after the crisis had passed. Not a good feeling either.

    Being let down sucks but the resulting lowering of expectations does act as a callous to pad the soul from further harm. I said pad not armor - wouldn't that be nice.

    I've managed to bounce back and hope you will too.

    Anon E. Mouse

  10. Erica, I couldn't agree with you more!! about Everything you wrote in that piece... I have
    heard the same Many times & @ so many funerals etc.

    Good usual!
    RJ for Fet-Life

  11. Mouse -- trying to. Thanks.

    RJ -- thank you.

  12. Erica, you tried to be there for me, over and over, during my "fifty-step program". Then you were still there when I came out of the darkness. You are still there now.

    I believe that the best life we could live includes a short list of people, who make it on this short list. I call these people "the rocks that don't move". As someone who is a rock to readers across the world, perhaps you (and your readers) might well understand when I say that term applies to you.

    Your essay leaves me thinking about the intersection of intentions and actions. It seems as though the comments have a central theme, that a promise is a promise. What seems to be confusing, like always, is people's ability to understand why other people break their promises.

    There are several lines in these comments, which attest to the injuries caused when there is an accident in this intersection.

    So maybe my comment is really about bad drivers, because in a world where everyone's making promises, there seem to be more and more accidents. Using this analogy, drunk drivers, careless speed freaks, and people who choose to plow through crowds shouldn't be allowed to drive. Again, because it seems to me that you, and me, and most of the people who have written above, have all been hit...and more than once.

    Since I've written so much about the actions, I'm not going to take anymore time to talk about the intentions, because I don't think I have to anymore. Once the accident has occurred, with injuries, intentions don't matter anymore. Just like we don't care why you plowed through the crowd, we just care that you did it.

    So this is where you and I come together, because for me, you have been a rock that never moved.

    ...and I'll bet you're a great driver, too. ;)


  13. Having returned to New England to take care of several parents, I miss my New Mexico sunshine, sky and nighttime stars. Come visit me for a month, say in February, enjoy the slush and the perpetual overcast and our black ice and you may return to California (which is where I have an impression you live) with a renewed appreciation for sunshine. IM(not so)HO!

  14. Michael -- I'm really glad you're back. I missed you.

    I do understand why people have to break promises sometimes... because life happens. What I wish is that they wouldn't make the damn things in the first place. Oh, and yes, I really am a good driver! ;-) A bit of a Nervous Nellie (traffic makes me claustrophobic), but I am careful and John says I have great reaction time.

    Jon -- I do live in CA. Granted, I admit I wouldn't want all the snow and black ice and so forth. But I would love to live in Washington State where it's cloudy and rainy a good deal of the time. That kind of weather actually makes me feel very serene.

  15. Hi Erica -- I am so sorry someone let you down :-( that makes me feel sad. I send you many hugs, wish I could hug you for real. I know how this feels all to well :-( I am tired of people, promising me the moon and the stars as well and not going through with it. I agree with you if they can't keep their word then they shouldn't say it :-( It hurts to be lied to.I have trust issue's because of IDIOTS that did the same to me.Wishing you the best ALWAYS :-) Love naughty girl Jade/ Emily Jean

  16. Jade -- it's OK. Sometimes, they mean well.

  17. Good lord, so well to hate Ziggy, he is too real for all of us. You really nailed it on this one, well intentioned and truly good people but only a few step up when you need them!
    Love you