Do you know how to ask for help? You are probably thinking that Is a stupid question, of course, I know how to ask for help, but do you really? Do you know how to ask for help, or do you carry much more than you can handle and occasionally drop a few things because you “don’t need help”. Do you know ho to ask for help, or do you suffer in silence as your body cries out in pain. Do you know how to ask for help or do you do too much because its somehow expected that you will and you don’t want to let someone down or have them think less of you? Do you really know how to ask for help?
I didn’t. For most of my life, I would carry all of the shit so I wouldn’t disturb the people around me. I would push through the pain and literally destroy parts of my body rather than ask for the help that my body was screaming for. I would push my body far past its limits to lug, tug, drag and do. If I thought I could do a thing, I did, and if I found out partway through that I couldn’t, well, I figured out how to do it anyway. Stubborn much? There is a fine line between independence and being a stubborn jackass, I always did have an affinity for furry beasts. When damage from RA, and being a stubborn jackass with RA, limited that ability to do whatever I thought I could, eventually, I realized I had to learn how to ask for help.
I won’t say it’s easy, because we all know old habits die hard. If you are not naturally a person who asks, or are yourself used to being the helper, it won’t be simple to change your stripes. You will find yourself still attempting the things you cannot do. The key is to start to recognize those times. When you find yourself in over your head, when you find yourself thinking, maybe I should have asked someone to help me, ask for help. Next time you approach that same task, consider asking before you get stuck. There is nothing wrong with needing a hand. In fact, one of the primary reasons we choose to be communal animals is so we can help one another get through life.
For me, asking for help started with the small stuff, my biggest struggle, water bottles and drink bottles in general. I started asking strangers to open them for me, at the checkout, on my way out the door, in the parking lot. At first, I felt both dumb and lame, I mean, look at me, I should be able to open that drink, I’m young and strong, right?
Once in a while someone would indeed give me a what’s wrong with you look, but what I found quickly was, I was the only one who really cared that I needed to ask for help. The cashier didn’t judge me when I asked her to open my water, in fact she simply said “I sure can,” opened my beverage and moved on to the next customer. I walked away, feeling awkward the first few times. As time went on, I stopped feeling strange about it. I am just a girl who needs a drink, who doesn’t want to fight and still fail to get into it. Just like I’d always been a girl too short to reach the top shelf, a girl who used to climb shelves to make up for that fact, who, at some point had started asking strangers for help reaching.
A little soul searching revealed that it was the way I saw my need for help that was the heart of the issue. Being short was clearly not in my control, I had quite literally been born this way, but for some reason, my brain was not as forgiving of my shortcomings when it came to RA, ironic because, honestly, I was pretty much born with that too. Not at all surprising to me at this point, I needed to start with my own perceptions and beliefs about who I should be and what I should be able to do if I wanted to learn to ask for the help I needed when I needed it.
After years of working on that and learning to ask before I am in too deep, I can honestly say I am rarely found in over my head these days. You won’t find me struggling to open a bottle of water, lugging all of the groceries at once, struggling to lift something heavy over my head, or scaling the cupboards to reach something on the highest shelf. If I don’t have a tool to make it easier (I do have many of those), I ask for help. Do you know what I found out when I started asking for more assistance? The people I love, love to help me.