Most People Would Not Take a Bullet for Someone Else….Most.
I believe every person cares about themselves above anyone else. …up until a certain point. We, as humans are social creatures, of course. So, I do believe that in some cases people do care more about others than themselves, like in the case of mothers and their children. I am not a mother and as a non child having person, I remember telling my best friend in sixth grade that I’d do almost anything for her. I meant anything except die for her. I take motherhood very seriously and have many, likely unpopular, opinions on that role, but for now I’ll say this: I believe one of the primordial requirements to become a mother is to be willing to die for one’s children.
I don’t even mean this as in choosing to die for a child like pushing them out of the way of an oncoming vehicle when crossing the street only to be struck by it yourself. I mean, in ways that are (amazingly) not given much thought or consideration. I should say, in ways that aren’t dwelled on. The best example being, by giving birth. That can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal, but people do it everyday. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that.
Would I Die to Save Someone Else?
I never thought I’d meet anyone I’d be willing to give my life for. Thankfully, I haven’t been through many near fatal situations first hand. In fact, the one I am about to describe is the least dangerous of my top three, but it is the most recent. I was swimming in the pool with a friend of mine and her two daughters. While she was taking care of her infant, I was watching over her five year old daughter who was afraid of drowning. After a few hours she would “dive” from a small platform as long as I promised to catch her before her head went below water.
This was encouraging progress. I am consumed by fear myself, so if there is one fear I can help my honorary niece conquer, I will. She continues making progress throughout our time in the pool and after a couple of hours she decides to jump from the pool’s edge which is even higher than the platform from the previous dives. I held out my hands knowing this was a positive step for her. Even though I was wary about the height she was jumping from (we were in the deep end), I wanted to encourage her newfound bravery and knew that whatever happened, she would not drown. I would not allow that to happen.
I didn’t. She jumped, but the added height took me by surprise. I sank in the water as I furiously kicked only thinking about her. My only thought being to not let her face go under water as it would freak her out. She was wearing floaties, so she would likely be fine even if I had let go, but I did not want to traumatize her. So I held her up and kicked underwater as much as I could before taking in a small breath of water myself.
Was it stupid? Maybe. Unnecessary? Probably. But in that moment, I wasn’t thinking. To tell you the truth, I actually forgot she was wearing floaties. Or maybe I thought that if she went underwater and panicked it wouldn’t matter if she was wearing floaties or not, she might start inhaling water out of pure panic. Point is, in that moment, to me, she had to stay above water or else she’d drown. Simple as that.
So I did not let go. It was only a moment, but I do remember running out of breath and wondering if I would drown. To assure her before this, I had told her that I would drown myself before I ever allowed her to drown. I meant it, but didn’t dwell on it. I said it so nonchalantly, but without planning on it, was proving the statement true not long after I’d said it. Thankfully, I was able to gasp in air soon after that small trickle of water and I had enough sense to play it cool and give her a smile while congratulating her for her bravery for deciding to jump.
If I did it right, she won’t even remember that moment. She’ll just remember that she can trust me to keep her safe even when she’s scared.
Why was I Willing to Drown?
As for me, I remember that moment as the first moment I ever risked my life for someone. Again, I know it was a stupid thing to do and really not nearly as dangerous as it could have been, but for me it was the only time I could ever say something was happening to me that could threaten my life and I chose to continue on in that state for the sake of someone else. It’s confusing.
Maybe it just proves I do have that expected motherly nature that encourages people (regardless of gender) to protect the younger population. Maybe it’s personal and means I love my honorary niece in a way I’ve never loved another human being. Maybe it just means I’m stupid. I don’t know.
Ultimately, regardless of what it means, I now know that I do have at least one person whose life I would save before my own. It’s a scary, yet encouraging thought….however, there are many other barriers to motherhood for me so no news on that front.
What my Limited Knowledge of Psychology has to say about this
I’m not sure how to end this post. I don’t want to recommend seeking out a dangerous situation to risk your life saving someone else, unless you have a dream of being a firefighter or something of the sort. I will say though, I remember studying about developmental stages in psychology class and learning that as people age into adulthood they often benefit from interacting and giving back to those younger than them, especially children.
I also remember learning that in old age people are either satisfied and accepting of death or regretful and fighting against end of life.
Not to be morbid, but I do feel like being willing to sacrifice one’s life for a someone else, especially a child, is a natural and healthy part of life. I see it as accepting the fact that I am older now and I, even unconsciously, agree that one day I will die, so if it’s between my death and the death of someone younger than me, I am not the priority. In a strange way, that is comforting to me. Maybe because I did not think it possible.
My Personal Ties to Self Preservation
I have feared death for many years. Like I said, my life revolves around my fears. Some are of seemingly insignificant things like social anxieties and personal insecurities, but most revolve around an overactive sense of self preservation. I have attempted to avoid bodily harm since before I was afraid of death.
I was taught how to get off a bed before I was even able to climb onto one. (My older brother rolled off of a bed and hurt himself as a toddler, so we both learned how to get off a bed the very next day. Can’t imagine I was older than a year or so at the time.) I’m the younger sibling by one year and it’s true (at least in my family) that the first child is how the parents learn to, well, parent by trial and error. My brother was both a clumsy and a sickly child, so self preservation was a huge lesson my parents’ prioritized teaching us.
Knowing how ingrained that sense of looking out for my own life and safety was, it’s no wonder I didn’t think it possible to care for others as much as myself in terms of physical well being. (Emotionally is a different story since I will very readily give up my own comfort or really, anything I can to make people feel better even if said thing makes me feel worse.)
Moral of the Story and my Insane Writing Process
So, to recap: I am still afraid of dozens of things and have no desire to partake in potentially dangerous activities, however I believe I am maturing in a healthy way since I did experience a moment of undeniable motherly/adult instinct to protect a child for the first time in my life.
Therefore, life is beautiful. Take care of your loved ones. And look forward to another insane rambling of mine…..at some random point in the future. ….or the next time I watch an emotional movie and am bombarded by so much past trauma that I suppress my urge to avoid thinking about anything by distracting myself with T.V., food, social media, etc. and I decide to face some of it head on and eventually find some viable post in the word vomit and fall asleep exhausted but glad to have put some of my many tortuous thoughts into words and somehow find the strength to come back to said messy post the following day or week or month to edit it and make it as readable as posible before posting it for the world to fall witness to my inner demons.
Yep. I’ve been finding it hard to write these past few months. Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope someone got something out of that. And, if you would like to watch a movie that will twist your heart to pieces if you can relate to it in any way, I highly recommend Five Feet Apart.