“Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.”
I come from a family of resilient people. Meaning, we were raised to be strong, self-sufficient and resourceful human beings. My parents never came right out and said that asking for help was a sign of weakness, but somewhere in my upbringing I took on the story that if I asked for help, I was putting somebody else out, so I just didn’t do it.
As I grew into a young woman, I had certain areas of my life where I shined… landing great jobs, excelling in my career, managing my money, being a good friend and taking care of others.
I rarely needed to ask for help with any of these things, because I had this stuff DOWN my friend and I was proud of it!
My friends often said to me, “You have it so together all the time. I feel like you always go after what you want, get it and don’t let anything hold you back.”
This was true. I’m a go-getter. I’m determined and persistent. But I don’t always have my sh** together like people think.
Emotionally and in relationships… I needed help.
Emotionally and in relationships… I needed help. I didn’t always make the best choices. My need to “be needed” and “take care of others” led me to choose romantic partners that were not always good for me.
My ego that got off on being the best at everything led me to people and situations that challenged me in ways I didn’t want or need to be challenged.
My best friend once told me that I take something away from other people when I don’t allow them to help. She asked me how I feel when somebody asks me for help.
“I feel honored,” I said, “And happy. I love to be able to help other people.”
“So, don’t you think that other people feel the same way when you ask for help?” she replied.
And the truth is, they do. I’ve learned that people feel great when we ask them to help us. It can be as simple as going to them for advice, asking them to listen or telling them we need help with managing something in our lives we are struggling with.
When we ask others for help, they feel that we trust them. They feel that we value their friendship so much that we feel safe going to them when we’re hurting or in need.
When we ask for help, we risk being vulnerable enough to say to others, “I’m human. Just like you. And I can’t do it all alone.”
I have recently had to ask for help. I unexpectedly became a single mom just 3 months after my daughter was born. I also had a 4-year-old at the time. My husband had fallen in love with somebody else and made the choice to leave to be with her.
The devastation of his choice and the months following were something indescribable. I felt I could barely take care of myself let alone 2 small needy children. Yes.. he still showed up as their father 50% of the time as we share joint custody, but that other 50% it was just me to take care of a newborn and a 4-year-old who didn’t understand what was happening.
And the other 50% of the time I didn’t have my kids, I was just plain alone to deal with my grief.
I am strong and independent, though, I fell apart. I didn’t know how I would ever survive the betrayal or the heartache. I grieved the loss of my marriage, my life as I thought it was going to be and the home I had put so much love and time into making our dream home. I had to start all over again…
So I showed my weakness to others. I called friends to cry. I called others to help with the kids when I needed a break. I allowed people to give to me which was the hardest thing of all… small things like a dinner out on them, a free haircut from my hairdresser, a massage from one of my co-workers. People wanted in their own small way to help ease the pain and just let me know they were there.
In this process, I went from a person that only knew how to give, because giving gave my life meaning and purpose, to a person who can receive.
I learned to be vulnerable. To show my battle wounds and scars to others.
I learned to be vulnerable. To show my battle wounds and scars to others. To admit, I didn’t always have it all together. And to allow the exchange of energy… that beautiful exchange of “giving/receiving” energy to flow.
In my willingness to ask for help, I became stronger. I believe my courage to show others I needed help made me human to people who measured themselves against me, thinking they were somehow less than because they had this image of me that I never needed any help from anyone.
They couldn’t have been further away from the truth. I am just like everybody else. I need help as much as the next person and I need people to tell me it’s OK to ask for it.
Being vulnerable enough to ask for help when we need it… That is courage. That is a true strength. That is the mark of a truly brave human being.
We do not have to do everything alone in this world. The truth is, we were never meant to.