Why do you hate me? I haven’t helped you


Why do you hate me, I haven’t helped you.

Picture an old man, his face wrinkled, his eyes mere slits on either side of his crooked nose, weak legs crossed in front of a dying fire.  "why do you hate me?  I haven’t helped you" he says to the small gathering of young disciples in front of him.

"Why do you hate me, I haven’t helped you?".  An ancient Chinese Proverb I learned from an old man not so long ago.  I’ve since applied this proverb to my life, and my experience with people in it.

In theory, it attempts to portray how, when you lend out your hand to help someone, it tends to get bitten off.  I can think of so many instances where people have been helped, and end up begrudging the person who helped them.  I’m not quite sure why, but if I was forced to take a stab at the mentality behind it, I would say that the person in need was either ashamed at needing help, or embarrassed at their own incompetency of the situation they have gotten themselves into.

To personalise my theory, I’ll tell you about when I was pregnant and in hospital with Kiera, an estranged cousin who lived in the area came to visit me out of the blue one day.  When she asked where I would be staying after Kiera was born, and admitted into NICU, I told her I had nowhere to stay officially and was looking at nearby BnB’s within walking distance to the hospital so I could see my daughter every day.  If you don’t know the story, the only hospital that specialised in my unborn child’s condition was hours away from family and home, so I needed to move there in order to give my child a chance at life.

My cousin came back the next day and told me to stop looking around, as she and her husband had decided to let me live in their house for as long as I needed to while Kiera was in hospital.  The day I was discharged, about two weeks later, she picked me up with her beautiful daughter, and I arrived at my new home, with a lovingly laid out bedroom awaiting me with flowers, chocolates, and the physical address on the fridge so that I knew where I was when I needed to hand it out to taxi cabs or food deliveries.  She had thought of everything I might need.  

I remember being excitedly called for one evening while I was lying in bed, to listen to the radio.  The weekly Paediatric installment had taken Kiera’s medical story for their topic of the week.  The doctor happened to be based at the same hospital as Kiera and was using her case to discuss with the radio station listeners. My cousin was so tearful as we listened to the Doctor as he listed all my daughters medical issues and problems to overcome.  She reached for my hand to hold while a stranger was talking about our lives as if they were just another edition of his medical journal. Her whole family was so warm and welcoming, and I should have felt right at home.

I lived with my cousin for just over two months, and although she was nothing but accomodating and helpful, because I was so utterly dependant and stressed out and desperate and broke, I shunned them out because I was most of all the feelings, ashamed of my situation.  I came home late at night, and left early every morning to be at the hospital, but also in hindsight I realise it was to avoid them.  I didn’t want to remind them that they had this strange relative imposing on them daily, breaching their privacy at every turn, living in their home and changing their routines of going out on Fridays, because they felt too bad to leave me at home alone.  They even invited me to come with them, but also were accepting that I wasn’t in the mood because I would be dead tired from spending the day in a busy NICU and far too sore because I was still recovering from the very badly healing wound in my abdomen from the emergency caesarian.

The morning I left to come home, I wrote a letter of thanks which was stuck onto the fridge. They were perfect hosts, and I couldn’t have asked them to do anything more than they had already done for me.  Sadly, to this day I have never spoken to them again.  Over the years, I have wanted to make contact, but the longer I left it, the harder it was.  Recently she added me to Facebook, and despite countless messages I’ve typed up, I delete them before sending.  It shames me to think of what she must feel or think of my inadequate gratitude, but hard as I try I cannot get over myself and apologise.

"Why do you hate me, I haven’t helped you?".  This is something to say to someone giving you trouble when you haven’t broken your back to go out of your way in order to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. I hope you will remember this Proverb, as it applies to life in more ways than you think.

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