If you read my post last week, then you know my vacation got off to a bit of a…shall we say…rough start. It was one challenge after another, but we made it through.
A major reason that this is truth is because of the life support system that I am blessed with. Sometimes when I’m within the swirl, it’s hard to stand back and truly appreciate it all. I’m grateful as it all happens, but that doesn’t do it justice. Not entirely.
As someone who is learning late in life that it is okay not only to ask for but to need help, I am continually amazed at what an integral part of life it is. It’s like a beautiful dance, and sometimes you get a chance to lead, but just as often—and sometimes even more so—you are the one being supported and swept across the floor.
To say that most of my life I’ve been reluctant to ask for help is more than fair. Just ask my husband. His answer may contain words like “stubborn” and “control freak,” among others. It’s a byproduct, at least in part, from being the one to take care of things after my dad died when I was relatively young. If you’re looked to long enough as the one to get things done…that’s what you do. You don’t ask for help. You do.
I didn’t realize until much later in life that this isn’t an entirely positive way to live. By not asking others for help, I was depriving people of the opportunity to do one of the very things that I thrive on: helping someone. Seems obvious, no? But remember…stubborn…control freak…
Not only that, but I needed to take a good, hard look at what I felt about receiving help—and the truth was (and sometimes still is, though I battle it) that I saw it as weakness. But how could I give help and not feel like I was helping someone in weakness if that’s the way I felt receiving it? Leave it to the brilliant Brené Brown to nail this so completely and utterly on the head:
Major wake-up call: When you cannot accept and ask for help without self-judgment, then when you offer other people help, you are always doing so with judgment.
I needed to allow myself to be put on life support. I still struggle, but as a work in progress, I know I am getting better on this front, and—thank God—because I surely needed it this past week.
At a glance, in somewhat chronological order, here’s the help I received in meeting the challenges we faced (to fully understand, if you haven’t read last week’s post, you might want to):
- A dear friend not only let me store our food in her freezer but was willing—as she always is—to do much more if needed.
- My husband’s family was there to assist with my mother-in-law’s follow-up care.
- Our mechanic stayed past closing in order to put in a new battery for us.
- An old friend, who happens to work for my mom’s doctor, not only let me schedule the appointment via Facebook messenger and kept me posted but even sent me a pic of my mom’s xray!
- Our vet answered my call and reassured me that my dogs would be okay with the medicine mishap.
- My brother-in-law took my mom to her doctor’s appointment in my sister’s and my absence.
- And, of course, my husband and son were right there to console my tears and offer comfort to a rather frazzled me.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some in my “help rundown,” but…you get the idea. Quite a village, no? What a blessing. And…I don’t feel the slightest bit weak in accepting all this help. Or maybe it’s that I’ve grown to understand that there is no crime in weakness. Am I grateful? Absolutely. I am grateful all over the place. But weak? Well…maybe that’s okay?
I admit I’m still not entirely comfortable with receiving help. There are times I’m totally cool with it, but there are also times that it makes me want to be an island unto myself.
But I’m happy to say that that island is more accurately a peninsula these days. I’m happy and I’m grateful…because it is this kind of life support that truly gives breath to the beauty and connectedness of life.
ALL PHOTOS ARE MY OWN OR USED WITH PERMISSION.
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