Day 296 - Asking For and Accepting Help
It seems to me as if the world is split into two camps: the self sufficient people and the dependent people. Of course, there is really a continuum of this particular spectrum as no one exists in one place on all issues. But it seems like people are oriented in a direction on this topic of asking for and accepting help.
First let me say that I believe everyone needs help. From the moment we are born to the moment we die, we need other people to help us, love us and pay attention to us. But it seems to me that early in life people get one message about asking for help...do it or don’t do it.
I am one of the self sufficient people. I need help but still rarely ask for it. I ask a couple of people and even then it is hard for me. I am probably overly dependent upon my mom as she is about the only person on the planet that I feel comfortable asking for help. Everyone else is way too scary or unreliable. She has become my go to person because she has always been there and most of the time always says yes. Unless I am asking for something ridiculous. Which still happens. Regardless of how much or little I ask for, she has proven herself a reliable and trustworthy source of help. She makes it easy for me to ask. I have a much harder time with other people.
So going way back, I know that somewhere along the way I observed people and their strategies for asking and accepting help. I decided that I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone which is stupid and not possible. But it was set as a goal. Need no one and ask no one for anything.
So it may come as a shock to you that I used people a lot. Not in the conventional sense, what I needed most from people was companionship. I am pretty sure the last two years of my drinking that I was never alone. I was with people or on the phone with them 24/7. I needed them to pay attention to me because being alone with my thoughts was excruciating. I used people as a distraction from my pain. I guess I still do this sometimes but not as often as I used to.
So even though I have had my own dependencies, I have avoided to a large degree joining groups, close knit social circles and the like because I do not always want to do what they do or go where they go. I like my independence and now that my inner landscape has largely leveled out, I don’t need to use other people as a distraction from myself.
As much progress as I have made, I still suck at asking for help. I am not good in a dependent stature. I still feel like asking and accepting help places me in a one down position and I hate that with all that I am. I also tend to judge people who do have this skill. I think that I scorn them because they are capable of asking for what they need and often getting it when I feel like I don’t even understand how to ask the question. Then if I ever do ask the question I am so awkward about it, I think I get turned down because the whole situation is just plain weird and very awkward.
I also avoid overly dependent people which has caused me some issues in my parenting. I have really had to work at the child dependency thing because I have this ingrained belief that self sufficiency is the way to go. I have had to seek professional help to help keep me right sized in my parenting and available to my kids because of my over developed sense that everyone should just take care of their business on their own. Ok, Erin, they are five, not going to make their own dinner! (I never really did that but boy did I think about it). I wonder why no one ever tells you that being a parent is going to be a spiritually challenging task? I tell everyone that, whether they want to hear it or not. This does not make me popular at baby showers...
I was talking to a girlfriend yesterday as I sat on the beach watching the families enjoy a Sunday afternoon. We were discussing why it seemed so hard for us to find a suitable partner. Both of us feeling like we have our shit together and that we are able and worthy of dedicating ourselves to another. We stumbled upon this idea of self sufficiency. That perhaps we have our shit a little too together. What is a man going to add to our lives? We already have all the shit organized, labeled and under control. What can a man possibly add?
I do not like the damsel in distress idea. It makes me kind of want to barf but I do see how men need a purpose and to feel like they are capable of providing something in the relationship. I think to some men it really matters that they make the most money or have the ultimate say so but to most guys just walking around I think they just want to feel needed and desired and like they have a purpose in your life. Both my friend and I agreed that we have done a lousy job of creating a place in our lives where a man could enter and help. We laughed that the only place we could see that we have currently is home improvement projects...and both of us do a pretty good job of handling that or just buying what we need.
We both agreed that we were going to do a better job of opening up some space in our lives where a man could possibly enter and find a place to be helpful and needed. That we and our self sufficiency are great and all but perhaps not really providing fertile soil for seeds of relationships to grow.
I am also going to ask for help here...as I wrote that I wanted to throw up a little...if you see me being overly self sufficient, please mention it to me. I promise that I won’t get defensive and act like an ass or cut you out of my life. I would really like to be able to ask for and receive help, perhaps never as much as I like being the help provider but better at asking and accepting. While I am good at going it solo, I think that I have perhaps weaponized it unintentionally.
I believe people need people and I have to start applying that to myself and stop defining myself outside the circle. To be honest, this terrifies me. And even as I write this I want to delete it all and write something else today. That is how much it scares me to tell you the truth about how vulnerable asking for help makes me. So go easy on me people, I am working hard over here to put this out there. So even though I want to vomit, I am going to do it anyway.