"Anything You Need..."

It's simultaneously the nicest and also the worst thing anyone can say to you when you're going through a hard time:

"If there's anything you need... Let me know."

Sometimes they even add emphasis on the "anything." They verbally embolden it, like "If there's anything you need..." Or maybe they capitalize it: "If there's ANYTHING you need..." The really helpful will repeat it, italicize it and make sure there's plenty of dramatic pause in there too: "If there's anything -- ANYTHING -- you need..."

It means a lot, really it does. You mean it when you say it to friends in need. And when you're in need, it really does mean the world that they want to help you.

But there's a major, major problem. When shit goes south, often times the one thing you really need, you can't have.

Friends will do just about anything and everything else possible to help you... Except that one thing that fixes it all. They can't bring back the dead relative. They can't make the spouse un-cheat on you. They can't make your boss un-fire you.

And that's where you, as the person who has to face the tough situation, have to realize that to place that level of requirement on people is just plain unfair. You will turn all of your friends away and push them out because they can't do that one thing that fixes it all... So you feel they can't do anything.

If you're like me, you will bottle up all of your emotions, push forward, put on a smile and pretend like everything is fine. You'll fix your own meals, you'll take care of your own house, you'll do everything in the world for yourself, because if you can't have that one thing, you don't want anything. Or even ANYTHING.

It's a mistake.

Rely on your friends. Let them help you, even if all they can do is sit there and be in the room and make sure you're not alone. Let them cook you a meal. Let them clean up a little. Let them help you pack things if that's required.

Burdens are heavy. Lifting them alone risks throwing your back out... Then where are you?

And as the friend who offers assistance, your job is to be the passenger in the vehicle. Be there when they need you, point out hazards if you see them, but otherwise, they need to do the driving. Your job is to work the radio, unwrap the drive-thru food, and put the straw in the drink. Otherwise, your job is to keep them from steering into a ditch or playing chicken with oncoming traffic.