Is your “Help” helping?

Posted: January 24, 2021 by Isaac Cross in Uncategorized

Takeaway: You don’t get to decide what “Help” means to someone else.

You are not helping | Dank Memes Amino

One of my longest standing current relationships* is with someone that I cannot publicly acknowledge being in a relationship with.

(* “Relationship” is a tricky word. I see this person every few months, at best. We’ve been friends for nearly a decade, sporadically moving in and out of physical intimacy, and generally doing our best to stay in touch with each other. Many people might not think we interact enough to call it a “relationship”, but that’s not really what’s important for this post.)

The person is a professional sex worker. Specifically, she works out of one of the Nevada brothels (or rather, she did before COVID shut them all down). Now she has converted to online work until or unless it is safe to resume in-person offerings.

I feel an odd mix of feelings related to not being able to talk openly about being with this person. Because I want to be supportive of sex workers and help reduce the stigma and shame associated with it. So it feels wrong, on some level, to “hide” my relationship with this person.

But I’m not hiding it out of shame. I’m hiding it because that person has asked me to.

It’s important for her job, her income, and her entire life that she (as the quote from “Coyote Ugly” worded it) “appear available but never BE available”.

So as much as I would like to be outspoken about how entirely unashamed I am to be associated with this person, their job, and everything else about who they are… I don’t get to decide that. I don’t get to decide what helping looks like for them.

Now, I am not going to try and draw the line from this example to something in your own life that you can relate to. But I promise you that if you care about someone, anyone in the world, whether a single individual or a group of people, you will have ideas about things YOU think would be helpful for them that THEY would rather you didn’t do.

But you can only know that if you talk to them.

So check you assumptions and go talk to the people you’re trying to help and care for and support. Check in with them to make sure your help is actually helpful, or needed, or even wanted.

Don’t just take it for granted that your instincts, based on your own life and circumstances, will line up with what they need and want from you as a partner, a friend, an ally, or a supporter.

In short, be like Kristoff.

Family Time | Day 57 of self-quarantine

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