They support one another, because that is what people are supposed to do


Chinese: ren / Japanese: hito

My late night conversation with my husband yesterday, as I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown:

Max: Are you crying? What’s wrong?

Me: I don’t know…everything…I don’t do anything, I don’t contribute…I just sit at my computer and I…I feel like I hate myself.

Max: Everyone hates yourself.

Me: What?

Max: Everyone hates yourself.

Me: You mean, everyone hates him- or herself?

Max: Yeah, that’s what I meant. I don’t like myself sometimes either.

Me: Why? What’s not to like?

Max: Like I’m getting old…and my English is not good, so I have to rely on you for everything.

Me (looking up at him, realizing he had just hit it on the nail): THAT’S why I hate myself, for relying on you for everything. If it weren’t for you I can’t run this household…I can’t even mother…I feel like I wouldn’t be able to function or get anything done…I feel useless…

Max: You know the Chinese/Japanese character for “person,” right? The two strokes [he writes the character in the air with his finger] – there are two strokes because they hold up one another. They support one another, because that is what people are supposed to do.

I never knew that, about that character.

Why do I feel less capable because I need help? Why do I feel that I have to be able to do everything on my own? The thought of needing someone – that I have to depend on someone else for survival whether it is financial, physical or emotional – frightens me. And I know that sometimes my fierce determination to be independent, to not need, hurts Max. We all like to feel needed, to know that, to a few important people in our lives, we are indispensable. But knowing that there is someone I can’t live without – that scares me. Because if I depend too much, someday that person may no longer be here, and that frightens me more than anything.

Happy anniversary to my other stroke, the one that holds me up without fail.

22 thoughts on “They support one another, because that is what people are supposed to do

    • Thanks Delia! Maybe too much of a good thing – I am thinking of that 70s anthem “I Will Survive” – so easy for a woman to take that to an extreme out of fear.

  1. Just wanted to start by saying congratulations on your anniversary 🙂

    I can relate to your article about the delicate balance between independence and dependence in marriage. On the opposite end, I have had to learn to allow my husband to take care of me in many ways. While we have both failed many times, we share a vision in our marriage to support both our individual and shared dreams, allowing us to forgive each other easily.

    Remember to live each day as if it were your last – as we will never know if or when we may not have one another anymore. Your marriages co-dependence will flourish your individual lives and your independence will strengthen the trust between you.

    I wish you all the best for the years to come!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate your words and think it is great that you have learned to “let go” a bit and allow your husband to take care of you. I need to learn to do that too – or, that is, I need to feel okay about it since he is already taking care of me.

  2. No need to be frightened because I am sure that I will live longer than you. I am in much better shape than you! ha ha I will take care of you until you die. Happy anniversary!

  3. Happy Anniversary Cecilia. You know the chinese/japanese character for person is just a perfect representation of what a “whole” person should be – supportive AND supported. I have always put up walls and believed it is weak to lean on or rely on others but in fact, as I grow older and wiser I realize more and more that the opposite is true. It requires real strength of character to truly trust in others and allow them fully into our lives. Yes, we can get hurt by doing so but as the saying goes it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and it is better to sometimes risk being hurt because the rewards of allowing ourselves to open up to and lean on others can be so wonderful.

    Have a fabulous evening with your husband.

    • So true. It takes alot to take the walls down and to feel comfortable keeping them down. I’m amazed at how much I learn from everyone’s comments every time I post. Thank you.

      And thank you for your warm wishes!

  4. It is so very hard to ask for help, to allow ourselves to be helped, to admit that we’ve let someone in so close that we need them. But our lives are richer for it, as you point out, if we can find the strength (because it isn’t easy!) to let down our guard.

    • Thanks Stacia. And that become so true after we become mothers…to be able to admit that we can’t do it all…

  5. OK this is my self-congratulatory pat on my own back for recognizing the Chinese character you have on here. Except, I only know like 20, so it’s not that much of an achievement 🙂 And I love the explanation behind that character too. How cool.

    Here’s my REAL response: Someone wise (I forget who now that I’ve filled my brain with Chinese characters) once said “no man is an island” – and I’m assuming it applies to women too. We are not solitary creatures. When push comes to shove, yes, I’m sure we can do it, but these dichotomous elements, supporting/relying, pushing/pulling, giving/receiving are probably what holds us all together, making us feel like a part of something bigger than ourselves.

    And it’s not always balanced. Sometimes we’re givers, sometimes we’re takers. And it’s always ok because that’s what people do for each other. Especially married people 🙂

    p.s. sorry if this is in poor taste but I felt something akin to this not too long ago and wrote a post about it too. For what it’s worth, here it is:

    p.p.s. Happy Anniversary! Enjoy your date night.

    • Justine, so so beautifully said (as always). I hadn’t thought about how we all not only want to feel needed, but also that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. And that we’re both givers and takers, in different doses at different times. I’ve been in a more taking mode recently, but then I can remember the period of time when I was giving more. Thanks for this. And it is not poor taste at all to share what you have also written on the topic (I’ll head over in a few minutes!), especially as I just did this myself on another person’s blog, ha ha (so it CAN’T be in poor taste, right?!) And thanks so much for the happy wishes. 🙂

  6. I have always loved that character, ever since my son brought home a book on chinese characters..he was so intrigued by it.

    It is so visual.

    I am so grateful that someone as wonderful as you has someone just as wonderful back.

    I love that you recognize that in each other.

    This was a beautiful post, one that brought tears to my eyes.

    Your post reminds me of one of my favorite verses, one that always brings tears to my eyes, “the beauty of marriage is that it allows you to become who you are.”

    Warts and all, it allows you to become

    We never recognize that beauty that we possess, the beauty that your husband recognizes in you.

    I wish you both a heartfelt Happy Anniversary. I think you both see how blessed you are: a good marriage is when each person thinks they got the better end of the deal, and that’s what you both have.

    Have a wonderful evening, and feel all the love your readers are sending your way.

    We see what Max sees: how special and wonderful you are, Ceci.

    • Oh Alexandra, this is too lovely and heartfelt for me to respond to here in a public forum. I’ve written you an email instead.

      Thank you so much for this – not just the words themselves but the fact that you have said them. This is my anniversary gift! Thank you so much for your friendship. 🙂

  7. Asking for help is one of the hardest things, because I want to not need it, not need others. What a wonderful character, what beautiful thoughts, thank you and happy anniversary.

    • Dear Cecilia,

      Everyone hates yourself.

      That is the most meaningful part of this episode. I know Max. I know Max’s English. I know that he speaks both with native ability and sincerity.

      “Everyone hates yourself,” says that he spoke from his heart, without processing through the grammar check in his head.

      What a beautiful heart to heart. I guess that’s what supporting each other is, you have a heart to heart – the expression doesn’t note “protected by a thick layer of skin and shielded by a rib cage!”

      It’s nice that you could open up, and he jumped to let you in, supporting and defining each other.

      I guess you guys did exchange anniversary GIFTS after all!


      • Thanks for this, Kathryn! You put it so well: this conversation *did* feel like a gift, because we hadn’t had one of these conversations in a long, long time. And you know the full story to this, that it was precipitated by an issue that could’ve led down a completely different path…but somehow it didn’t. We were spared this anniversary, or maybe we are finally learning 🙂

  8. Hi there Cecilia,

    I followed a comment over from Terry and really liked this post, the character for person resonates strongly with a growing sense I have that our true identities are much more collective than modern, materialistic and alienated thinking has lead us to believe.

    Maybe every lone person “hates yourself” but at the non personal and interconnected level it seems possible that we also might “love our SELF” (even if we often don’t consciously grasp this) with the SELF being something akin to our collective soul.


    • Thank you so much for stopping by. I agree it’s a beautiful character, and love that it shows us its meaning rather than simply being something to pronounce. Thanks for your thoughtful comment about self.

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