Help is a funny animal. We all need it. We all offer it from time to time, some of us more than others. But the odd thing about help is that when we need it the most, we don’t ask for it. In fact, at least in my case, I do everything in my power not to ask for it. Odd, that. Don’t you think?

I’ve found that when I’m not doing well or feeling down the last thing in the world I want is for other people to know about it. There is some shame or something attached to it for me. As though in my heart of hearts, I believe that I am always supposed to be strong. Always supposed to know what to do and how to solve my problems. That despite the fact that I have some very incredible friends often they are the last to know when something is wrong with me. Excluding of course, those who know me so well, I don’t have to say anything because they can tell something is up.

I have often wondered why I feel there is such stigma attached to needing help. Is it just the flat out neediness of it all? That it’s just too embarrassing to show the world or some small faction of it that I too can be vulnerable, can feel lost and without the wisdom to find my way out of something? Perhaps.

Although, in my experience if you want to visit betrayal on yourself the fastest way to do it is to ask for help. I don’t know why that is and I don’t know if I am the only one who has experienced this (I doubt it, though) but it seems on the few occasions that I have asked for help, what I have received instead are lectures, resentment and insults. I have been told in no uncertain terms that I should have not gotten myself in whatever position I found myself in, that I was smarter than that or worse, the cliche phrase, “What were you thinking?” As if to infer I’d taken some sort of stupid pill that day.

And so, I guess at least in part because of this I have decided that biting the bullet is the only way to get through it. That to just fall and fall again until I somehow learn on my own how to get up is my only avenue and I’d best get used to it. And I’d venture to say that there are many of us out there who feel the same way and have had the same experience.

It’s ironic at best and fricking scary at worst. I’m reminded of that song, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, I think there may be some wisdom in those words. Friends and family tell you all the time, if there is anything I can do, let me know. Then you tell them and oops they can’t really do that. They didn’t really mean that. Right? So the mixed messages don’t do anything to help either. It’s hard enough to swallow your pride and ask someone if they can help you but to then get a firestorm of I told you so’s really just adds insult to injury.

Still, there must be a way around it. There must be a way to be able to ask for help when you need it without suffering further humiliation and hurt. I don’t think I know what it is but I’d like to. I’d like to understand what the boundaries are not just for others but for myself. When should you ask for help? Right away? No, at that point you probably still think you can handle things. Maybe midway through? Well by that time you’re already screwing up pretty badly and who wants to admit that? Then again, if pride is what got you there in the first place, having more helpings of that isn’t going to do anything either, is it? Usually, I’m afraid that most of us ask for help when we simply can’t take it anymore and even the humiliation is better than whatever the situation is, right? Yeah, that’s probably right.

There is no easy way to ask for help and too, there is no easy way to accept the help you need. Maybe that is why I try go out of my way to offer help to people – not that I have a whole lot to offer but I never want any friend of mine to feel like that can’t ask and especially to feel like the answer will be no. We’re all infinitely flawed individuals and to think otherwise is folly at best. This is something I need to be better at myself, asking for help. I don’t and I should. It would probably save me a lot of heartache in the end if I could find the words and swallow my pride. If I could stop expecting myself to be perfect and to always know the right thing to do and the correct solutions to my problems. It is something I plan to work on this year, learning that, realizing that and accepting that. Maybe it won’t be such a hard lesson to learn though probably it will be quite difficult knowing me as I do.

I wonder, what about you guys, do you have as hard a time as I do with this?

13 thoughts on “Help

  1. I ask for help. There are certain people in my life that I KNOW I can turn to, and I do.

    That’s great Red – I’m glad that you have that in your life. πŸ™‚


  2. Oh, I’m horrible at it. I keep thinking I just need to tough it out and everything will fall into place. Once in a while I’m even right.

    Hey CG,
    You sound a lot like me – I pretty much do the same thing.


  3. Yeah I have trouble asking for help. In fact my favorite prayer is a one word prayer usually screamed out loud when I have hit the bottom.


    Squawky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How the heck are you? Happy New Year, buddy!

    I too, am familiar with the prayer you speak of…does it work for you? πŸ™‚


  4. I have trouble asking for help. It’s normally at rock bottom before I go.. ahh, tee hee.. somebody? Anybody? Please?


    Hey D,
    Apparently we are from the same planet. What’s up with that? πŸ™„


  5. I love this post. I am horrible at asking for help… I am getting better though. I do think it’s a pride thing.

    Hey Cas,
    Yes, I think it is a pride thing and then of course there is that getting your fingers burned thing too. You know? πŸ˜‰


  6. Hi Annie,

    I don’t ask for help – well, except from family – but I give it at every chance. Of course, I have alternative motives in this. I keep a record of everyone who owes me and, once the list is long enough, I’m going to run for President and call in all those favors. (evil laugh)

    Oh, and the best way to ask for help is simply to mention your problem in a casual way when someone asks you how you’re doing and see if they take the bait. For instance:

    Hi Annie, how you doing?

    Fine, if I didn’t need a kidney transplant.

    That’s a shame. Oh, wait. I have an extra one; let’s go get tested to see if it’s a match!

    See how easy it is. Fortunately I only fell for that once.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    You really gave someone a kidney? Wow – do you have any spare money? LOL.


  7. For me it’s a combination of pride, shyness, and a strong grounding in “be a lady and don’t make a scene.” Trouble is, at my age, I’m starting to imagine lying on the floor incapacitated and being too embarrassed to call for an ambulance because of all the commotion it will cause! Funny, but scary too.

    Hey 30,
    Yeah, I guess maybe I’m not too far behind you on that. Although, there is a lot to be said for commotions, don’t you think? πŸ˜‰


  8. yeah, I have a very hard time. Growing up I was the kid who ‘had to be’ ok. Mum and Dad had their hands so full with my brother that they needed me to be ok. Screw ups were met with harsh condemnations – even the ones out of my control.

    Then, as a young adult in a very bad situation I was kicked in the teeth by some of my very closests friends who decided that I was a ‘negative influence’ and cut off contact. Hard times show you the real strength of your friendships and they weren’t really my friends.

    I know this because five years ago when I lost custody of my eldest daughter and we had to defend ourselves from all the nasty stuff going on we were awed by the help offered us without us even needing to ask. People who dropped everything to be with us at appointments and interviews and court. People who paid our bills and told us later. People who rang or popped in to see how we were doing. People who would invite us places or ask us to help them with something to provide us with much needed distractions from our collapsing world. People who quietly took over anything that we didn’t/couldn’t do and who never made mention of it.

    And that helps a lot when it comes to asking for help now – that we have had that unconditional, no questions/judgement/hesitation help and know where it is to be found should we need it again

    Hey B,
    I’m so glad that you found your true friends in what had to be a horrible situation. It really makes a difference to have people like that in your life, doesn’t it? We’re all blessed to have those people there for us, eh?


  9. I’m really careful of who I let into that realm. Only the most sacred, proven test of time relationships are allowed my vulnerability. And only one of those people are family. Because I like you, cannot stand to be lectured. I need to be validated. And when people say things like “I told you so” or “what you should’ve done”, or “need to do”, I feel they are mocking me. So I just cut those people out. When I really need something, the ones that count are always there, lending support without criticism, no matter how many times I fall.

    Hey Kim,
    You sound like me… I’m careful about who I let in on that stuff too. Besides, most people don’t really want to know anyway, right?


  10. I’m trying to catch up a little bit on blog reading in between packing for our move. I have a tough time asking for help. I have always done everything for myself. Sometimes I might hint around and my daughter will say “Just ask for help Mom” I guess I am slowly learning to ask for help when I need it. I guess I just hate to put people out.

    It sounds like you are better off leaving that cold house. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out to be what you hoped it would.

    At least you will be warm at the apartment. Hope you get your internet back fast.

    Hey Joanie,
    sounds like I have lots of catching up to do too. You’re moving? Yikes. Yeah, asking for help is very difficult for me too, we must both be old school, eh?

    The house is better left to someone else I think and we are warm now – and yay, internet is here. πŸ™‚


  11. You mean we’re not supposed to expect ourselves to be perfect and it’s ok to ask for help?? I’ll have to share this new information with my gastroenterologist the next time we talk about my stress-induced stomach ailments :-/

    Great post, Annie… as usual πŸ™‚


    Hey Debs!
    yeah, apparently we are allowed to ask for help and not be poifect all the time. who knew? πŸ˜†


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