Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #7 Asking for help

I couldn't have come across the quote I posted yesterday at a more poignant time. On Sunday, my back gave way. It's an old injury, an aggravation in my lower spine that flares up when I am run-down, stressed, not exercising, and pushing myself too hard. So I wasn't surprised when it happened and was able to respond to the signs quickly. I dug out my stash of anti-inflammatories and pain killers, had a hot shower and cranked up the hot water bottle, massaged the area with anti-inflammatory gel, reinstated a gentle stretching regimen, booked an appointment with an osteopath for the following morning, cancelled out of work and most social commitments for the next few days.

What I didn't do was ask for help.

And I spent the next morning in considerable pain, howling to myself, as I tried to keep our routine humming along. I wondered: where were the offers to stick to the usual babysitting hours so that I wouldn't have to lift and carry my little 'un as I got her fed and dressed? Where were the offers to stay home late or come home early so that I could have some time to rest, knowing that my daughter was safe and occupied?

The physical pain was considerable, but it was the searing loneliness that literally brought me to my knees. Where was the intuition, the empathy? Where were the people for whom I've continually adjusted my needs? Where was the recognition, the acknowledgement of my efforts to minimise everyone else's discomfort, often at the expense of my own?

Now I can see that this attitude wasn't necessarily the most mature or helpful. I know I can't expect anyone to read my mind. I know that everyone has a life of their own, including important commitments that preclude dropping everything and rushing to my bedside. I am also keen to avoid the trap of doing things for other people in order to feel "owed" something, as I know there is little joy to be found there.

I also see that I backed myself into a familiar lonely little corner where no-one gets me and no-one cares. And I can say that it didn't help me feel any better, physically or psychologically. And it made asking for the simplest of help so prohibitively complex.

I'm trying hard not to blame myself. Some of my hesitation comes from past experience of asking for help and being ignored, let down, or downright refused. It's not easy to be seen as vulnerable or scared, particularly when (like most Mums) I'm the one who has to hold it all together for everyone. I can also see how my efforts to cultivate the image of being capable and confident makes it less likely for anyone to assume I need or want help, or will even accept it.

This week, I invite you to join me in just sitting with a few questions. I suspect it might be a little painful, so I'll understand if you're not keen to dwell here. I'm certainly not recommending confrontation or blame, or overtly trying to change anything.

I just can't help but wonder if there are tiny gifts that might emerge from the pain.

What am I not asking for help with? What would this help ideally look like? What if the help came in a less-than-ideal form?
What does this help represent for me? Why am I not asking for it? What might I need to do, in order to be able to ask?
What would it mean if I asked and help was refused? What if it was given?
Have I really looked everywhere, exhausted all possible avenues for help? What role could my inner resources play?
Am I really as alone as I keep telling myself I am?

I don't know the answers to all of these questions (and some of them are HUGE) but, for now, I just feel that sitting with them is the important thing. Something tells me that by asking these things, I am getting closer to my core narrative, the one that has been holding me back for a very long time.

There's one thing I do know for sure, though. You and I are worthy of receiving all the help we need. And perhaps, by loosening the pages of our core narratives, we might find more ways of asking.

What do you think? In what ways does this resonate for you? I'd love to know.


  1. Good questions Kat! I'm glad you are in an early time zone so I can start to think about this post/question. I now realize I need to ask for some help with a unique situation but it hadn't occurred to me until you posed this question and this post. Thank you for writing this - I think I may be able to ask for the help I need in my next blog post tomorrow, which is Wednesday for me =-)

  2. Dear Kat, I have just completed my blog post to address HELP that I need in my life at this time and I have YOU to thank for it! I've been in the doldrums due to a facet of my work situation and your prompt HELPED me to think of a radical solution and request for help.

    This weekly prompt is amazing and I'm so happy I could speak to this prompt - I hope you'll take a minute to visit and see my 'radical' request =-)