I have a bodily urge to take care of others. It kind of drives me, like the need to pee drives a person to pull over at a rest stop and empty his or her bladder. I would venture to say that this drive/desire keeps me chuggin' along in life, but then we are border crashing on patheticland and I don't even like visiting that state. Admittedly, I sometimes put my energy into others at the expense of my own emotional health (ok, like a lot), but I'm working on doing this less. Someone reminded me recently that it's really important to get the oxygen mask over your face before you put it on the child's, otherwise you're both dead when the cabin pressure drops. I know that sounds gross and cryptic. But you get the idea.
Anyway, I generally like this nurturing quality in myself, and I think it's a good thing (I'm so not that girl that stubs her cigarette out on the sleeping homeless guy holding a cardboard sign that says "fucked". I'll give him gum or a mint from my purse).
I get off on knowing that the people around me are doing ok. It's like enjoying a really satisfying meal for the spirit.
Last night I went to Whole Foods with my friend Jeremy. He wanted to do a big grocery overhaul and stock his fridge with lots and lots of yummy, healthy foods prior to doing a major New Years body cleanse. It was so satisfying. It was kind of like doing the Supermarket Sweep, you know, that old game show where you get to fill an entire cart with stuff and use somebody else'd credit card? I did not expect it to be that fun.
First off, Whole Foods is my dream store. Once I got over the endorphins pulsing all that blood around my brain, I was able to stave off the anxiety attack that was looming due to the unbelievable amount of wonderful shit that is available to you in that store (150 different kinds of organic lip balm!!!! Raw tahini!!! An entire aisle of organic wine!!! And how about 45 different organic cheese wheels to go with that??? Fuck me!!!)
Anyway, When we got to Jeremy's house, I felt like Julia Roberts in "Dying Young" -- you know, when she loads all his cupboards and shelves with wonderful vitamins and wheat germ (token "health food" of the 80s), determined to help him get well--except, you know, Jeremy is already really healthy and he didn't just undergo massive chemotherapy like Campbel Scott did in the movie.
Putting rice cakes in his cupboard, stocking his crisper with a variety of vibrantly colored vegetables and fruits, and helping him to generally feel good about doing something healthy for himself made me feel reallllllly goooooood.
Maybe I should have stayed in social work. Nah. I'd have gotten burned out. Maybe I'm kind of addicted the the high of putting my positive energy into others. That's not a bad thing, right? I think if it feels good, go with it. Just as long as I'm not compromising any part of myself to help someone else feel good. That's just the way that I see it, folks.