This is not an easy thing for me to say, but here goes: My name is Suzy, and I need…ugh…I need…gulp…okay here goes…I NEED HELP!
Wow, that was tough, and yet it’s true. I am recovering from back-to-back reconstructive foot surgeries, and guess what I learned? I can’t do it alone. I need help. But sometimes it feels easier to do it the hard way than ask for help. Me, relinquish control of every aspect of my routine? Me, admit that I can’t do it all? Me, watch someone else do it the wrong way?
When you live over a decade with an illness, you learn to adapt. You learn to modify your ways in order to preserve your independence…and your self-esteem. Every time you have to ask for help, like opening a bottle of pain reliever medication so that you can function a little better and not have to ask for so much assistance, it’s a reminder that you have limitations while others don’t.
I don’t think the hesitance to ask for help is solely tied to those with illness or injury, though. I think far too many of us fall victim to this mentality. In this day and age of the multi-tasking, overachieving, constantly-striving-for-self-growth way of life, to admit we can’t do it all feels like defeat. Think about your workplace. A leader is only as good as the people she leads. A great leader has great employees and knows how to delegate. She has help.
Except in real life, most of us don’t have personal assistants to help us manage our lives. We can’t tell someone to watch our kids while we go to the doctor or bring us soup when we are sick. We have to ask. We have to interrupt someone else’s busy routine, one that’s probably just as full as ours.
No wonder we are so exhausted.
No wonder we feel busy and overwhelmed.
No wonder our relationships struggle and we feel alone.
No wonder we don’t feel a sense of community. We don’t offer a sense of community.
What are we so afraid of? Rejection? Move on and ask another person. Disappointment? Again, move on and find someone else. Being an inconvenience? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you feel inconvenienced? Hopefully your answer is no. Are you afraid of strengthening friendships? Having someone by your side to make life a little easier? Sharing in life’s troubles?
You see, we have so much to gain when we learn to ask for help and very little to lose (except for some maybe their pride, in which case I would suggest you need to be humbled now and then).
I’m not suggesting we make every problem someone else’s problem. There is strength and satisfaction to be found in perseverance. But when life seems to be throwing a dozen lemons at us (or in my case, a broken garbage disposal, broken dryer, backed up sewage pipes, broken garage door spring and a totally busted “Franken-foot”), and we only have two hands, why not ask for help catching the other lemons rather than trying to grow ten more hands (and maybe even an extra foot)?
So back to my foot surgeries: I not only accepted but I asked for help. I accepted offers for meals. I asked to borrow a knee scooter. I asked for healing prayers and emotional guidance. I asked for help getting kids to and from school. I asked for rides to doctor appointments and play dates. I asked for help when my daughter got herself stuck inside box spring mattress. Imagine making that phone call. I even asked one of my closest friends to scrub my toilet. (For the record, she is a neat freak whose love language I am pretty sure is cleaning toilets.)
And guess what? Not everyone helped, but a lot of them did, even with the toilets. They caught my lemons! It’s my hope that I can repay them with kindness and generosity. No, I take that back. I won’t repay them. These friends of mine, they don’t keep tabs. But maybe, hopefully, I can be there for them, and others, when the need for help arises.