Do you tend to ask for help when you need it? Or do you think you need to weather every storm by yourself?
I sit here today, thinking about a family of whom I have always been fond. The husband was gravely ill, one of their kids was in crisis, and the wife was understandably very stressed, exhausted, terrified and overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t be? I was so glad the wife and I had been in contact very recently, just before the onset of the husband’s health issues. We were out of touch for some time before that. I know it isn’t always easy for this person, or for a lot of you, to ask for support. I’m also sure there are many who know this family, who are very willing to give them support.
I know what it’s like to be in crisis. I know about dealing with the illnesses and emergencies of loved ones, about sudden trauma, and about loss. I have been through many of these personally, and through my work, I help people deal with such things all the time.
I am no miracle worker. Sometimes a great deal of assistance is required that is above and beyond my personal or professional abilities. Often, though, people can be accompanied with love and with an impartial eye and ear, as they move through their difficult journeys. They can be helped to pull up tools that have been with them all along, but which they have forgotten, or need to rebuild, or they can gain the awareness to find new coping tools and strategies to help themselves and their loved ones.
It’s wonderful if you have a really strong support network. Some are blessed in that way. Many do not have such a network. Even when they do, they sometimes feel it’s a sign of weakness to reach out and tell friends or family what they need. If independence is a highly valued quality to someone, or they learned in their family of origin, that you should keep your troubles to yourself, it is going to be that much harder to acknowledge the need for help and support.
There are individuals who have a long history of distrust, and who assume that others have negative motivations for offering help in times of need. In most cases, that’s far from the truth. People want to be there, but can be bumbling at expressing that clearly, or at asking what is needed.
Then too, when we are suffering, have lost someone, or are going through a painful, tough situation, we may be more sensitive to people’s comments. Our emotions are probably very, very close to the surface and our nerve endings feel raw. We may overreact or misinterpret what others say. In our stress or upset state, it’s easy to misread or distort comments, or even actions. That could be due to how we are feeling, and to our intense vulnerability, or due to their inability to be clear. They might be uncomfortable with the situation and with your pain, as well. I am, by no means, trying to excuse insensitive individuals.
When we are feeling awful, it’s just so difficult to muster the energy to reach out and make requests for what we need. Yet, often we must.
Asking for what we need is an important part of loving and caring for ourselves.
If you know me, you have heard me use the expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, or “You can’t fill anyone else’s bucket if your own is full of holes”. Personal and family crises can deplete us pretty rapidly.
So even when you have to work hard to figure out how you will get through the day because you are so overwhelmed, stressed or sad, good self-care is imperative, or as much of it as you can manage. If the only thing you are able to do, is to reach out to one person, then please do it. Call someone. E-mail someone. Let them know what is going on and make a request. Do you need something specific? Do you need them to notify other friends or relatives about what is happening, or to organize some effort, such as preparing food? Maybe prayers will reassure you, but if they don’t know, they can’t help.
Sure, you shouldn’t have to ask. If you are one who has kept to yourself, or who has always seemed to handle things with ease, most of the people in your circle will not be able to read your mind, or even to understand what the needs are.
Chuck your resentment right out the window asap, about your friends not automatically knowing what’s needed by you, or your family.
Start taking care of yourself by coming forward and asking.
Ask, and in most cases, you shall receive!