Being an external brain

One of my dear friends is currently at the hospital for hip replacement surgery. And so I wanted to quickly post a note to something I wrote (and she reviewed before I posted it) that’s about what I’m doing for her during her recovery.  We refer to what I do as being her External Brain. I talk about the details of how we make that work over here.)

Basically, I keep track of details so she doesn’t have to. So her husband doesn’t have to. So we know that there’s someone who can sit with her all the time while she’s in the hospital (my friend has adult hearing loss and lip-reads, so having someone there to both remind the hospital staff of that and of what’s necessary for her to participate in the conversation (and to do things like take notes of what’s happened, so she doesn’t have to, and can focus on the conversation.))

I’m reminded of two things every time I do this particular kind of work – and in its own way, this particular kind of priestessing.

1) It’s not about me.
It’s about what’s actually helpful and necessary, and my own ego, my own desires can just stay out of the way. (That’s a valuable lesson I carry back into my group work, my work life, and pretty much everything else.)

This doesn’t mean that I need to erase my personality – quite the contrary, as some of what makes me able to be her External Brain with great results is how our interactions work out. But it does mean I need to be clear about the end goal and the intention, and all the other pieces that go into that. And I need to focus on what my friend needs, not what I’d need if I were in a similar situation.

2) Everyone has their own skills:
And to be the best friend I can be, I can’t want to do everything. That’s not good for me, it’s not good for my friend. Currently, another friend of hers is there being Speaker to Medical Staff as she comes through surgery and out of recovery. When she’s ready to go up to her room, he’ll call me, and I’ll head over, so that someone can be there while he and my friend’s husband get a chance to take a break if they need to.

I also don’t need to be the one driving around doing errands. Unlike last time we did the External Brain routine, my friend has a personal assistant who helps her with work tasks, who has a good idea what she’ll eat and where to get it, and who can handle a lot of those details very efficently. I don’t need to be him. I don’t need to be her husband, and provide the emotional support and engagement he can. I don’t need to try and be other friends, who will bring their own comfort and skills. I just need to be me, and to do the things she’s wants me to focus. And then to spend time filling in around the edges if it’s necessary.

Mostly, though, I just need to be me, thoroughly. Completely.

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