Trust someone else with your life! – Amae, the feeling that resonates

Have you ever hand over responsibility for your life to someone else? When I ask myself how it must feel not being responsible for your own life for a moment, a veil of relief falls over me. I think I hand over this responsibility to someone else 3 times in my life. But let me go back to the beginning:

In Japanese there is a word that describes the feeling you get when you hand over responsibility for your own life to someone else for a long time. Amae! (甘え)

I stumbled over this word concept while reading an article. There is no word in German or English for this exact feeling. Nevertheless , I remember the few times in my life when I felt amae. A mix of relief and fear!

The first time when I hand over responsibility for my own life to someone else quite naturally and unconsciously was in the year I was born. The person who had this responsibility was my mom. I grew up with Amae, just like many of you out there. During pregnancy, she took care of her unborn child and made decisions for her baby and in terms of his health. If I am supposed to describe the feeling, that you feel if you hand over responsibility for your life to someone else temporarily, then inevitably I think of the years full of love and trust to my parents in my childhood. If there wouldn’t  be strokes of fate from the outside, then I even could say today, that Amae describes the ease of my entire childhood. However, many of you know my story and ease is not necessarily the word I would use to describe my childhood from the age of 7, but that is a different topic for another day.

The second time I felt amae was at the age of 21, when I handed over responsibility for my health to the chief doctor of a Berlin clinic and to fate. The doctor asked my mom for a personal interview. He said he couldn’t guarantee anything and gave me a 50% 50% chance to coming out healthy. My family was amazed at how joyful I was in my hospital bed, how I cheered everyone up with jokes and how brave I was in their eyes.  But most of all I felt a dash of relief because there wasn’t really anything I could have done. The thing is, I didn’t think I was super brave, I just felt the relief you feel when a heavy load is taken from you. After all, it wasn’t in my hand. So I decided to laugh with the doctors and nurses, eat and talk with other patients, and trust in fate and in the doctors. Fear and relief mixed. What will, that will.

Then, years without amae should follow. Until April 2011. On a Saturday night, there was probably the brightest full moon I’ve ever seen, his eyes met mine. I didn’t really know what was happening and then suddenly I heard myself say: “YES!”. That was the night I accepted Chris’s proposal and we gave each other responsibility for each other’s lives. I trust this, no, my (!) Person so much that I can rely on them, when it matters, to make decisions or to act on my behalf. He does exactly the same. Every time you move, for example, he decides with me and especially in the interests of his three girls. We both think of each other when we make decisions.

Passing the responsibility for my life on to someone else is a circumstance that seems almost impossible for an independent and self-employed person like me. It scares me and at the same time it brings me a great feeling of trust and relief.

The important thing about Amae is that it is about giving up responsibility temporarily. In Japanese, it is often used to describe the mother-child relationship or intimate moments between lovers. I like to take responsibility for and in my life. This is the only way I have the opportunity to shape my life the way I want it and to be the person I want to be. Nevertheless, moments of Amae are sacred to me, because such intimate relationships as those between mother and child or between lovers are the breeding ground for the feeling of Amae and I wish that my girls and Chris can experience exactly this feeling because they have me in their life and be able to trust me with their life.


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