Mostly it’s because I think if I can’t do it on my own, I’ve failed. This ludicrous thinking permeates my every day life and makes me do stupid things like say no when someone offers to help me with my bags, even as I’m struggling with the weight and feeling the plastic straps cutting off my circulation. Or like denying I need a hand moving when I am overwhelmed by all the planning that needs to happen.
Or bigger things, like suffering through break-ups, family issues, disappointments on my own because to ask for help is weakness and once you appear weak, that look stays with you. And once you show vulnerability, you can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore.
And I’m terrific at making do, and even making light. I’ve had a wobbly kitchen table for three years now because I haven't asked for help to fix it. It is part of the dinner party experience chez Shannon – everyone knows that you have to pull out the table gently and then kick the legs back out when you place it in the middle of the room otherwise one of the legs might actually fall off.
And the odd thing is that I can admit this and still not ask for help. I can look a person in the eye and tell them I struggle with it and understand that I need to work on it and yet, if they offered help, I would turn them down because I have to fix it on my own.
And I’m super aware that wanting to fix it on my own is part of the problem.
I hurt my right hand this weekend. To the point where I couldn’t unzip my own purse. And despite the amazing, unobtrusive kindness aimed at me by the Famous Freddy, I was embarrassed for myself. I was deeply uncomfortable needing help, and every time I turned him down, he looked at me, in a gentle way, like I was a complete moron. Because I was being a complete moron.
And if our roles had been reversed, I would gladly have opened doors and carried bags and made an icy tourniquet out of my jacket.
So here’s yet another break-up letter:
Dear me and my arsey inability to ask for help: This time it is you. Now stop it. As your friend Sue once said – you’re not as tough as you like to pretend you are.
P.S.: To all of my friends who have patiently watched me struggle with things they easily and happily could have helped me with, I apologize. To my family who laughingly and lovingly agree that I am stubborn and hard-headed and far-too steadfast about refusing advice, I apologize.
You have to love me anyway. : )