Apr 2, 2016

Love Yourself-Love Others?

Rabbi Dr. A. Twerski, in his work with addicts, knew a woman, Bonnie, who had stayed off alcohol for a year.  During the winter, her furnace broke and it took three days until it was fixed.

She slept in her freezing apartment for those three days.  When a friend heard about it, she was astonished and said, you could have called me or any of your friends and stayed with us.

She said, "I don't like to impose."

The friend mentioned this to Dr. Twerski who ran the 12 Step program that Bonnie was a part of.  He called her and said he was disappointed because he had planned on asking her to become a sponsor in the program.  She said, "You can call on me anytime; I'd be glad to help."

He said, "If you can't accept help, you can't give help."

This story was included in an Ami article about marriage to convey the idea that a wife who does not respect herself, who does not take care of her own needs, may do things for her husband but she'll do it with disdain and resentment. The rationale is, if you cannot admit and accept your limitations, you will look down on others for their limitations.

The points are made categorically, as though they are Accepted Truths, while I'm left wondering, really?

Bonnie's need was to be independent, not to impose, and Dr. Twerski turned this into a refusal to accept help, and he concluded that therefore, she could not help anyone.  She said she'd be glad to help and he would not even give her a chance.  Why not prove himself correct by letting her be a sponsor and seeing whether she could help someone or not?

One of the problems with this article is that it presents it as two choices: either you love and care for yourself or you don't.  Don't we all care for ourselves in some ways and neglect ourselves in other ways whether with sleep, exercise, how we eat, etc.?

And don't we accept help sometimes, in certain ways, but not in others? Did Bonnie never accept help ever, in any form?

And can it be proven that the more you take care of your own needs, the more you will respect the needs of your spouse and others?

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