Do you find it hard to ask for help? When it is offered, can you take it, or do you make excuses about why you can’t or shouldn’t. I struggle both with the asking and the accepting parts, and I’ve been trying to figure out why over the last few days.
I will happily offer my ear to listen, my shoulder to cry on, or to help out my friends in any way that I can, but when it comes to actually accepting assistance myself, I struggle. Even when it is offered freely, without expectation, I feel weird taking someone up on it. I wonder if it is because I somehow feel unworthy of such a kindness, or if it is my fierce need for independence that holds me back, but I know for sure that it is something that makes me uncomfortable.
I am scheduled to have surgery on my hand in a few weeks, and after talking to my doctor the other day, I have realized that I am going to have to suck it up and ask for help soon. It is a fairly major surgery on my hand, and, if what my doctor says is correct, I’m going to have a few weeks where just taking care of myself, let alone my family, is going to be difficult. I will be in a cast, and completely one handed for weeks. This is my second surgery on this hand, and is going to be far more involved than the first one and I’m actually pretty scared about it. I’ve been told that I won’t be able to drive for a few weeks, so I will either be completely dependant on the kindness of others to get around or housebound if my husband is at work. I’m worried about meals, and cleaning and how I will take care of myself. I’m worried about getting Q to school each morning making his lunches, and getting all of the day to day stuff done. I’m worried about how I will wash my hair and put in my contacts and how I will manage anything at all.
Up until a few days ago, only a few very close friends even knew that I was scheduled for surgery #2. After getting the call from the hospital about going in to meet with a nurse and anaesthesiologist next week, and then talking to my family doctor about the whole thing, I realized that there was absolutely no benefit to hiding it anymore, and I told my friends on Facebook. I wasn’t doing it for people to say “oh poor Brandee”, feel sorry for me or anything like that, but I knew that it would be of benefit for me to get support from the people I care about in my life. I asked if people had tips or suggestions on things that I should prepare for, or things that I could do during my recovery period.
Right away, people started offering their help. Offered to come and clean the house, bring a meal, run errands for me, cook dinner for the family, anything I might need. Someone suggested that I make a schedule and have people assigned to certain days or tasks. Friends who live more than an hours drive away offered to come out and help for the day, and others offered weekends and evening help. New friends, old friends, people I would never have expected. Immediately upon reading these unbelievably generous offers, I felt embarrassed and upset with myself for saying anything in the first place. I worried that my friends would (or did) feel obligated to offer their help, and I worried about the level of inconvenience I would be causing them.
Why, though, did I feel that way?
Deep down, I think I don’t feel worthy of the time and effort that it will take for someone to help me out. If I’m honest with myself, and with you guys, I feel like there are much more deserving people of this kind of friendship and generosity. I worry that people will come to resent me for taking their time that could be spent in much more rewarding, enjoyable or worthwhile ways. I worry that I don’t deserve it, that there I nothing that I’ve done that would allow me to accept any kind of kindness offered, and I worry about being a burden. I’m scared that my friends will feel obligated, but then come to resent me and pull away. I worry about being an inconvenience. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the last couple of years haven’t always been easy for me, and I worry that I am a friendship mooch, someone who takes and takes but never gives back. This may (or may not to those who know me well) come as a surprise, but I have a really hard time with the notion that vulnerability does not equal weakness in myself. I would never think this about someone else, but I struggle with feeling weak or needy and feel that when I show this side, it is because of a weakness or inherent character flaw.
I know that if it was me reading or hearing about a friend having surgery, I would offer to help in any way that I could and would genuinely mean it. So why, then, is it so hard for me to believe that others might feel the same way? I know that for me, I won’t offer to help unless I truly want to and feel that there is something I can give of myself to my friend that will be of value. It fills my heart to be able to be there for my friends, in whatever way that I’m needed. Somehow, though, it is really hard for me to believe that others would feel the same way. It is nothing against my friends, not at all, and part of me wonders if I feel this way because so many of the people in my life are the most amazing, kind and generous people I have ever met.
I know this is something that I need to work on, and I’m wondering if there is a lesson in this whole thing for me about being gracious and learning that it is ok to receive and accept kindnesses, or that it is ok to allow yourself moments of vulnerability and humility. Perhaps there are other lessons too, they just haven’ made themselves known yet. I’m also hoping that by opening my heart up to share this, that I will learn that I’m not alone in this feeling, but that it is ok to allow others to love on you.
Do you have difficulty accepting help? How do you move past it?