|Mister Man, happy to help make a cake!|
I struggle with it, and I know other people who struggle with it too. And yet, even though we have a difficult time asking for help, most people are willing, and probably eager to help out.
The thing is, I always thought asking for help was admitting defeat, or saying I was weak, or not capable enough to do it on my own. I wish I could go back and tell myself that asking for help simple means I needed a bit of help.
I suppose, if nothing else, the last 18 months have taught me to ask for help. I resisted at first. I didn't ask people for anything specifically. My mom set up meals for us, and even though she was the one asking, it felt awkward at first. People offered to come clean, to drive places, to watch the kids, and so many times I turned it down.
I can't lie: I wish I hadn't. The truth is we could have used the help. Sure, we got by and we survived, but things might have been much smoother if I had been more vocal. But then we hit a point where I had to ask. So I asked if someone could come help me clean, and an aunt came over and helped me. I cleaned with her though so it felt less awkward because you know, at least I wasn't sitting around and just watching. But then there came the day I needed help cleaning and all I could do was sit on the couch and watch. It felt horrible. Two women from the church came over and cleaned - one a breast cancer survivor herself - and I hated every single second of it. When they finished, I just burst into tears. But they came over and assured me that I didn't need to cry - they understood, they didn't feel bad, and in fact they felt better since they could do something to help out.
I think that's the moment it all clicked - most people like to help. They want to do something. As someone told me later, she couldn't take the cancer away, but she could cook for us. And I get it. Last week I was cooking dinner for another family and offering to take their children for a while and drive them to their activities. It wasn't a hardship for me, in fact, I only wish I could have done more. A few weeks ago I drove a friend to the doctors. And while we were driving she teared up, and I got it - I went back to that moment of sitting on my couch crying because people were cleaning my house. But I was happy to drive her. In fact, I joked that it was about time someone needed me because I have a big debt to repay for all the help we've gotten ;-)
It still feels a bit awkward asking for help. With that in mind, over the weekend I went to facebook and simply asked if someone local could help us out today (Monday). With myself getting surgery, I realized, if I could just get a dinner for today, it would help out so much. And wouldn't you know it, right away, dinner was arranged. And dinner for tomorrow and probably Wednesday. And let me tell you, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Could we get by without it? Well, yes, we could. But I would have worried about it. The husband would have worried about it. And well the kids, although not too worried about meals, were a bit worried about trick-or-treating.
I share this because as I said earlier, I know plenty of others who also struggle with asking for help. So my advice is suck it up, and ask. People are good. And they want to help. And if you need it, you shouldn't be afraid to get it.