Asking for help is hard.
It shouldn’t be. It should be natural to ask someone taller to reach a high shelf or someone stronger to help you move that cabinet. In a perfect world, no one would struggle vainly to open the mayonnaise jar when it’s only a few steps to the sink and hot water.
I learned two things about asking for help from my family:
1) If you can’t do it yourself, you’re clearly not trying hard enough
2) You ask for help when it seems like too much effort to do it/learn to do it yourself
Two odd messages from two very different parents.
One asks for help before ever looking for an answer. It’s too much trouble. Why look when someone else could do it for you? The other rarely admits the need for help. We put an entire futon together once without reading the directions (directions are for other people). A few steps from the end, we realized a major support beam had to be attached at the beginning.
In efforts to be more self-sufficient than one, I’ve made the other’s approach my mantra. I tried to do everything, to save everyone. It nearly killed me.
No one ever told me that first you try and then, if you still struggle, you find a helping hand. Working hard, getting better slowly but surely, was never valued. Brilliant first tries were highly praised. Lackluster second attempts were considered a sign that maybe it wasn’t for you after all.
It took me years to admit failure. Oddly, it was that admission that finally saved me from defeat. I suppose some people learn this lesson earlier, but I took the long way around. It turns out that when you share your struggles with your real friends, help is freely offered. There is a world of support I never knew existed.
I have friends who will walk with me when I’m tired at the end of the day and physical activity seems like torture. I have friends who remind me to consider what’s available before I reach for the most drastic option. There are people in my life who let me know when I go to far and push me when I can’t get started. I don’t know what I did to deserve them.
What I never knew, but I’m learning now, is the relief of having help nearby. When you know someone will pick you up, you can go on without the constant fear of falling.
Thank you, all of you. I don’t know if I could do it on my own. I do know that I don’t want to.