She really does.
It doesn’t happen nearly so often now, but occasionally I can still work myself into a particularly fine panic attack without even breaking a sweat.
When this happens, I feel, well, panicked.
My brain cells scatter, en route to snag a lifeboat seat before they all get filled.
Sometimes it feels like I can’t even walk, because most of my body has mobilized into “fight or flight,” but no one can agree on a direction in which to flee.
When this happens, there isn’t much I can do for myself, by myself.
There really isn’t.
I also often feel very ashamed and embarrassed, as well as hopeless about ever getting to a point where I won’t end up back in this same place yet again.
At times I also feel angry because I don’t want to ask for help, don’t like asking for help, resent having to ask for help, am scared to ask for help (only to be told I should have listened the last 20 or 200 times I asked for help regarding this particular issue)….
And while sometimes these feelings can cause me to hesitate about reaching out to my longtime mentor, Lynn, a long remembered history of unconditional love and encouragement (on her part) is usually enough to make short work of any hesitation (on my part).
Also, she never lectures me about needing help for the same issue or type of issue yet again. She never makes me feel like I should be ashamed of asking for help or needing help. She doesn’t ever talk to me in a way that suggests she pities me or resents me.
When you really need help, to the point where you can’t help asking for it, these things are very, very important.
I used to call her when I was in the midst of a personal panicked blitzkrieg, but these days I mostly email her. If it is really urgent, I text her to let her know that I am emailing her and, well, I’m dying over here and could she possibly, even just for five minutes….
She always finds the time somehow.
Emailing her helps because it forces me to take stock of the situation on some level by explaining as much as I am able what has triggered the current crisis I can’t seem to work my way out of on my own.
I will admit these emails are not examples of fine literature. They are long, rambling, sometimes redundant, and fairly devoid of the kind of basic literary courtesies (spelling, grammar, punctuation) a writer usually likes to extend to those she loves when communicating via print.
These emails are all over the place, in other, well, words.
But my mentor and I share a profession – writing – and she (unlike me) is also an accomplished editor, so she always seems to manage to locate and grasp the gist of what I’m attempting to explain.
Then she will send back a very well organized, perfectly spelled and punctuated reply that is easy to read and digest, even for a panicked brain operating solely on the last residual bits of emergency generator power.
It happened again the other day – I melted down (after a fairly long spell of relative sanity, I might add!) and urgently needed her.
I crafted the usual lengthy, disorganized missive and sent it flying her way, complete with accompanying text.
I explained the timeliness of the matter, the other folks involved and my complete and utter inability to make any kind of decision that didn’t involve vodka and impending homelessness (not necessarily in that order).
A mere 60 minutes later, I was propped up on the couch, newly in possession of a very sensible-sounding plan to navigate through yet another mess-of-my-own-making.
I guess we all have particular areas in life that can and do reliably create particular levels of chaos. Some of us have some issues, and some of us have other issues. But at some point in life, we all have issues we need help with.
In fact, it has been a longstanding theory of mine that no one is ever in too much of a mess to help someone else, and no one is ever too healthy to sometimes need help themselves.
Thank goodness (and I really hope this theory holds water).
But I guess what I’m really trying to say is this – I can’t imagine life without mentoring. I wouldn’t be here (literally) without mentoring.
And it is my heartfelt hope and wish (as well as the reason I founded MentorCONNECT back in 2009, a mentoring-based, all-volunteer org that is still going strong today) that everyone who needs a mentor is able to find their mentoring match.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever looked back at a time in your life when you received help just at the perfect moment and wondered what would have happened if that help hadn’t come along? Who are you grateful for and how have they helped you be a better, stronger, braver and more wonderful you?