A few days ago I was spending time with a friend and 2 of her kiddos on campus. Her son’s newfound hobby is climbing trees, so when he saw other kids climbing he decided to join in.
He climbed the tree quickly, not looking back. Strong and confident, he scaled it. He soon decided he’d climbed enough, and started making his way down… only to realize that he didn’t know how to get from the last branch of the tree to the ground.
“Mom, I’m stuck.”
His mom soon went to him to help him down, grabbing his hand and helping him jump safely to the ground. Soon, he climbed again and fell under the same dilemma.
“Mom, I’m stuck.” and again she went to extend a hand, laughing as she said, “at least he knows when to ask for help.”
I have never been a person willing to ask for help.
I’ve always been the person on the other side, extending an outstretched hand to the friends around me that need my help. But asking for friends to return the favor? Forget it.
I am always the helper– the doer. the pray-er. the server. the giver. but I don’t accept anything in return– even when I need the help.
I am always the helper, but never helped. I refuse to admit when I need help. Until i fall apart.
There are many
reasons excuses for this in my head. But they all result down to this:
I am stubborn as a mule (I get it naturally);
I’ve always thought asking for help was a sign of weakness;
and, asking for help means relinquishing control, ever so slightly, to the situation or problem.
My friend Rivers said this recently and it struck a chord: “I’m great at holding up other people’s arms when they are tired; I’m terrible at leaning on them when I am.”
I hate leaning on other people. I’ve fought the idea my entire life– I can do things on my own, I can handle my own mess and everyone else’s too, gosh dangit.
I put all my weight on my own shoulders, then let others put theirs on them, too.
But putting my weight on anyone else’s shoulders? Nope. Inexcusable! At least it is in my brain.
If anyone asks me, I’m fine. I’m okay. Tired, but okay. Nothing more. Even when I’m falling apart at the seams.
And yet, I wear out. Carrying the load on my own is hard.
But letting other people carry it for me is even harder.
I don’t like burdening people– even though they say it’s not a burden.
I’m afraid people will see me and run.
I’m afraid people won’t find me and my baggage worth dealing with.
I’m worried people will forget me and my issues, see them as something insignificant.
I’d rather do things alone, my way– but in doing so, I isolate myself into loneliness.
I don’t want people to see me as weak– and I want to control the parts of myself people see, so they see me in the best light. So I hide myself.
I can be vulnerable online all day long. But face-to-face, and you’ll most likely see a show.
When I’m anxious, I turn within. Internalize it all until I explode.
When depression hits in rogue waves, I hide under the covers and veiled smiles.
When I’m sad, I only shed tears on my pillow or in the shower (and professor’s offices, but that’s mostly when I’m angry).
And yet, I go through the motions of the day, letting other people give me glimpses into their life and their hurt, without so much as letting them get below the surface of mine.
I’m great at helping people. But I suck at helping myself. And accepting help from anyone else.
A twitter friend (hannah collins) wrote today, “I’ve found myself praying, “Help me ask for help” recently. It’s the scariest whisper I’ve made.”
I think I’m about to start praying the same, even though it scares the hell out of me. I have help available, friends with shoulders to cry on and hands to hold and words to pray… but it’s the accepting of help that I falter at. The admitting I need people. The admitting that I’m screwed up enough to need help. Realizing I can’t do this life thing alone– and when I try to, I feel nothing but grief and loneliness. The giving up control enough to let someone else in to my story. Letting people see me weak–when in reality, it makes us all stronger
when we realize how much we need each other.
There are people willing to lighten the load I’m carrying– not by taking my weight, but by helping me carry it.
People that remind me day in and day out that they love me, messes and all. That I’m not a burden– and my problems aren’t, either. I’m a human, screwed up royally just like everyone else. And we all need each other to lean on when we get too tired to carry ourselves.
On our own, we can only do so much before we burn out.
A couple weeks ago, a friend asked how I was doing. I said fine, and she read right through me. (she’s good at that). when I told her I didn’t tell people when I was struggling because I felt like a burden, she reminded me what I already knew– that there are always people willing to help. I just have to ask for it.
There are people waiting with their hands outstretched to help me. They’ve been there before–springing into action the minute I finally admit I can’t do this on my own. There are hands of friends willing to stretch out for me to grab when I’m needing help. I’m praying I learn how to not merely find said help, but accept it when the hand is outstretched.
I just have to be willing to admit that I’m stuck.
Maybe then I won’t feel so alone in this mess of life.