At this point I’ve seen far too many internet memes about how now one is coming to save you, and you have to save yourself. This is bonkers, and promotes excessive individualism and may actually make a person feel more powerless, not less so.
Firstly there are people whose job it is to come and save you. Firemen and lifeguards, mountain rescue, lifeboats, doctors and paramedics, first aiders, and in some circumstances, the police. Social workers, all kinds of advocates, support workers, people from charities. You would be hard put to get into a situation where it isn’t someone’s job to help with that. Whether you can access that help is another question, and how quickly you can get help is an issue. In theory, someone should be coming to save you, or at least be able to signpost you ways forward.
Rescuing people seems to be getting a bad rap from the people who tell you that no one will save you. Rescuing is too often portrayed as controlling, or manipulative, co-dependent, as some sort of mental health complex, as being a white knight… But in practice people rescue each other all the time. They give and loan whatever’s needed. People save each other by making spare rooms available, paying off debts, buying food, sharing experiences, listening, hugging… there are many ways in which we can rescue each other. We don’t have to know each other or like each other to be willing and able to rescue each other.
In terms of emotional distress, I know people who have been saved by dogs, and cats and horses. Books save people. Films rescue people. Songs, and works of art and other manifestations of beauty can help rescue people and keep them going.
Rescuing isn’t the same as fixing. We can’t fix each other, we can’t make each other heal. But we can provide safe and supportive spaces where healing is possible. We can rescue each other by creating the time and opportunity to fix ourselves. We can share knowledge and resources.
It’s not down to an individual to save themselves from all perils and setbacks. We need to stop telling each other we’re on our own with life’s difficulties, and instead invest in whatever we can do to save each other. A kind word, a smile, an offer – it doesn’t have to be heroic to have dramatic effects.
And if you truly feel like no one is going to help you, it doesn’t mean there’s no one out there who would care or help. Sometimes it takes a while to find the help you need. Sometimes what you have to do to save yourself is get to the place where someone can help you.