A few weeks ago, I was going through some stuff.
The universe – my universe – was cracking open and it was clear it was time to create a new order of things.
A lifetime of helping others – often to my own detriment – had me reeling with exhaustion, anger, and resentment.
And then I caught a random stranger who had blacked out on the street. Watching her crumble before my eyes, I instinctively reached out and grabbed her – her body slinking down so that I was holding her up by her breasts – to protect her from falling face first on the stone walkway.
The experience shook me to my core. It was first thing in the morning and I had a 15 hour work day ahead of me. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t even stop crying.
It’s too much! I said. No more. I am not saving anyone else!
Just days after catching this woman, I had extricated myself from the relationships with those I had tried to save – with those I had tried to make happy, to no avail.
My entire life had changed.
With wobbly legs, one night I left work at dusk. I stopped at a gas station I never go to and there was a window washer there asking if he could wash my windows.
I liked him. So I let him.
He was down on his luck. He’d worked as a plumbing manager. He’d been laid off last Fall. He’d spent the last year taking care of his dad and now was looking for work.
Attitude is everything! he said as he washed my windows. I just know I’m gonna find work! I’ve just gotta keep a positive attitude!
This felt like a test. The old me would have given the guy my card. Maybe a job.
The new me would not.
But I like that I’m a helper, I thought to myself. I just have to figure out how to be a helper with boundaries.
What kind of work are you looking for? I asked.
I’m a plumber, he said. And I’m a truck driver.
Do you have a phone number? I asked. One of my clients is a trucking company and with the holidays coming they’re hiring like crazy. I’ll give my client your number. He’ll call you and then the rest is up to you.
The guy was elated and gave me his name and number.
I drove off feeling incredibly good. I’d done it! I’d been able to help without over-extending myself!
I called my client and he was thrilled – he needed people to hire and I’d provided him with one.
Two days passed.
It was exactly one week after I had caught that woman and my little breakdown had begun.
I called my client about some business and another attorney came into my office. We talked business, and then I turned the subject to the window washer.
Did you ever hire that guy? I asked.
We are calling him tonight, my client said. We are having him come in for training next week. Thanks again for the referral!
Great! I said. You’re welcome! Tell him he’d better make me look good!
We laughed and hung up.
And then I told the other attorney what we had been talking about. This guy who had been a plumbing manager who had lost his job last Fall …
Wait, what? she said. Lara, what’s his name?
I opened my notebook and read her his name.
Lara, she said. He’s one of the people suing another of our clients – he’s a convicted felon. He’s been convicted of larceny.
(This is a true story. This shit really happened.)
I went completely cold. The hair on my arms stood up. And I dialed back my client and told him what was up.
What were the odds?!? And what were the odds that the one person who could put it all together would be in my office at just the moment she needed to be in order to keep disaster from unfolding as a result of my need to help others?!!
Okay, I thought. Universe, I am listening. And I need to shut this shit DOWN!
What is it about me? I wondered. Why am I such a pathological helper? Why do I put myself at risk just to be the good guy?
My friend Andrea made me call a psychic/angel person – because, clearly, something was going on here.
Don’t be hard on yourself, she said. You are a Light Bearer. People who are damaged and need light are drawn to you. It’s a gift. You just need to find a way to put some defenses up so that it doesn’t cost you in the way that it has cost you in the past.
Your children are old souls, she continued. They need your light. But they are also going to show you how it feels to be loved unconditionally by someone who has space for your feelings, too.
Not two days later my little boy said, while he cried in my arms in the midst of his own sadness around the loss in our lives, Mom, I want to know how you’re feeling.
So, I guess I have this thing. This light thing. And I can feel it’s turned up way high right now. It’s making me electric. I can feel myself radiating what feels like joy. And I have felt that way ever since I cracked open after catching that woman.
Now I just have to figure out how not to give it all away.