Friday, 16 August 2013

Warning: Private Space, Closed for Repairs

I suspect the situation this post and poem attempts to reflect is probably familiar to many if not most of us.

Overheard in a café:

WOMAN: Michael has been trying to get in touch with you. By all accounts, he’s in a bit of a state.  I gather his love life has turned turtle, the poor love.

MAN: No surprises there then.

WOMAN: So why aren’t you picking up or returning his calls?

MAN: Because I have serious problems of my own at the moment. I really can't cope with Michael's until I sort my own. 

WOMAN: That is so selfish! It’s all right for you. You’re strong. You know how needy poor Michael is.

MAN: Yes, well, right now I’m needy too. I need to sort myself out, and I can’t do that if I’m stuck with sorting Michael out...again.

WOMAN: But, poor Michael...

MAN: Poor Michael needs to grow up, and if you think he’s so needy, YOU go and sort him out.

The man left abruptly. The woman caught my eye, shrugged and sent her eyebrows into overdrive while mouthing, ‘Some people!’ ...before returning to her snack.

My sympathy was entirely with the man (I’m not being sexist either) having been there myself many times.

Most of us try to be there for our friends, bur some friends take us for granted.  We look around for someone to be there for us when we most need to talk to someone about something that is tearing us apart...and there is no one there; everyone is too busy with their own problems to even consider that we may have problems of our own. After all, we are ‘strong’ and can take care of ourselves; we don’t need anyone. Well, the chances are they are so wrong, and one day they well may look to their ‘strong’ friend for customary support only to discover that that he or she has crumbled under the pressure of disillusionment and the convenient corner shop is closed for repairs.

Some people are naturally strong and others have strength thrust upon them by personal battles hard won. But strong or less strong, we should never forget we are all but human, and much the same basic human needs apply to everyone. Sometimes we have to put our own needs first or we are likely to be of little use to anyone, least of all ourselves. 


I am but fragile
where seen as firm, fearless,
appearing strong,
no one suspecting differently
until I am stretched
as far as nature will carry me,
only to be exposed
for an illusion of the kind
feeding on dreams

I deceive no one,
but try to do the right thing
by family and friends,
be there at the right times,
lending a shoulder
to cry on, an ear to listen,
a take on how things
might change for the better
sooner or later

I am but human,
(with needs, too, of my own)
that often despairs
of finding no one there
or shoulder to cry on,
an ear to listen (for long)
or take on ending
this feeling of endless freefall
into empty words

I am the friend
trying to do the right thing,
at the right times,
lend a shoulder to cry on,
an ear to listen,
provide a take on how we
might set about
changing things for the better,
sooner or later

Handle me with care;
even close friends can weary
of being taken
for granted time and again;
no shoulder to cry on
or ear to listen for needing
to take up a little
of someone else’s private space
closed for repairs

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

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