When you can't do it alone

I don't know what it is about asking for help, but I am terrible at it.  There are probably a lot of reasons for this, which include the following facts:

a) I like things to be done my way and therefore would often rather just do them myself
b) I see asking for help as a sign that I can't do it, and deep down I am still trying to be Superwoman.
c) I want others to offer so I don't have to ask.

It is c) that is especially on my mind today, as I finally after four days broke down and asked my husband to take a sick day from work so he could care for SP - who is also sick - and I could take care of only myself.  He did half days on Tuesday and Wednesday, but even when he was home I was doing chores or I was still helping with dinner, bathtime, etc.  I found myself growing increasingly resentful that I was still trying to take care of everyone when I decided to take a deep breath (through my mouth; my nose is still impossibly stuffed), and recognize that the only person I can really change is myself.

What I can't change:
  • I'm sick today.  I have control over tomorrow, perhaps, but today I am distinctly unwell and I need to deal with that fact intelligently so that I can get better.
  • My husband is not a mind reader.  This falls in the category of things I wouldn't want to change, too, because let's face it: if he knew what I was thinking yesterday while I made dinner as he fell asleep in a chair and the sick toddler was complaining and I was trying not to fall over from the weight of my watermelon head, he would probably have refused to stay home with us today.
What I don't want to change:
  • How willing my husband and others are to help out when I do ask.
What I can change:
  • I can recognize that I am not Superwoman and that I do not have to take care of a sick toddler by myself when I am sick, too. 
  • I can ask for what I need, even if I have to be ridiculously specific.  
  • I can try to stop seeing asking for help as a sign of weakness.  It should really be a sign of strength that I know my own limitations and am willing to use the resources I have to get me to where I want to be.  I think.  I have a feeling this is going to be the sticking point for a while.
Anyone else have trouble asking for help?  Thoughts of how to get over it would be appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Neat blog! The Serenity Prayer is one of my favorite pieces of writing.

    Thank you for this post. I'm also pretty awful at asking for help. Which is particularly irksome because it's a big part of the concept of "Mutual Aid", which is at the core of my political philosophy.

    When I stay mindful of that, Mutual Aid does make asking for help a bit easier. It's a way of thinking about help not as charity, but as a sharing of resources. And, of thinking about sharing resources without it being about trade, compromise, or barter. That is, it may not be perfectly balanced, and the help may not be "repaid" for some time, but one proceeds from the stance that: "Were someone else to ask me for exactly this help, and were it in my power to provide it, I certainly would (and someday, probably will) do so. Therefore, there's no shame in my asking or accepting it now."

    I keep trying to remind myself that in a healthy society, where principles like Mutual Aid and consensus replace commerce and control, a person who neither asked for nor accepted help (such as I) would be ... well, insane. And yet, it seems "wrong" to many of us -- we who have been raised in an unhealthy society -- to ask for health -- (Huh, interesting slip. I meant "help".) -- even at the worst of times.

    As you said, in our world, it's really a sign of strength to ask for help, at least for those of us who've come to feel so much more comfortable giving than receiving.

    Easier said than done, of course...

    What can usually get me over my unease is when it's clear that my asking/accepting help will make a positive difference in the life of someone ELSE, a third party perhaps, or the one giving the help. Which ... is really just a recapitulation of the same neurotic stance.