I used to have trouble asking for help. I think it’s because somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that because I was a smart person, I should be able to figure things out and do them on my own. I’ve gotten better at asking for help as I’ve gotten older, though, and when I do, I’m always so glad that I did.
A little back story. Eleven years ago, I decided to do a weight-loss program at one of the local gyms. Part of this program was getting to work with a personal trainer three days a week. I had never really had a consistent exercise regimen prior to this, so as you can imagine, it was kind of a train wreck at first. I was overweight, out-of-shape, and embarrassed as hell that I could barely breathe during some of the exercises. At one point, I burst into tears and told my trainer how mortified I was. I was upset that I had let myself go and could barely do what he was asking me to. Do you know what he told me? He said, “If your car was broken or running poorly, you’d take it to a mechanic. Think of me as a mechanic. I’m here to help you achieve your goals.” I will never forget that bit of wisdom he bestowed on me. (In fact, he was so incredibly supportive over the years, I should probably write a whole blog post about him.) The point I forever carry from his pep talk that day was that it is OK not to know how to fix something and to ask for and receive help.
It was a good lesson to learn as the years passed.
Shortly after that conversation, my son was diagnosed with autism. If you’ve ever been told something is atypical about your child, you can understand how upsetting this could be. And it was. But what I also knew from that conversation with my trainer was that it was OK not to know how to help my child and that I needed to get some help. I started talking to people with special needs kids, asking questions, looking into different therapies for him. It was hard work, especially since I had zero experience with anyone with autism previously. It was a steep learning curve. But guess what? Everyone I asked for help showed up for me and for my child. I am still asking questions to more experienced autism parents and therapists, and I continue to receive the help and support I need. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
For over two decades, I relied on my former husband for help with our kids, house, finances, you-name-it. When you have a partner, you should be able to do that, right? When he left the marriage, I found myself floundering a little bit. I was embarrassed by his cheating, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to let my friends and family know what was going on. Eventually, I had no choice but to talk about what was happening to me and my kids and to ask my friends for support. The greatest thing happened when I did: people again showed up for me in big and small ways. They called to check on me, they offered to help with my children, they baked me cookies and brought me flowers, they dried MANY tears for MANY years. All I had to do was ask.
Being single again meant I was responsible for everything around my house. Chores that used to be shared like taking out the trash and cleaning the hot tub became my sole responsibility. I had a steep learning curve again that I got used to. I did ask for a lot of help. One of my friends, when I called him for tech support for the umpteenth time, said to me, “Kristi, there’s this thing called Google, and you can find almost any answer there.” Guess what? He was RIGHT! Google became my number one helper. YouTube solved so many problems for me! It was amazing!
When my boyfriend entered the picture, I was so used to taking care of things myself that it never occurred to me to ask him for help with anything. Last summer, before he moved in, I was trying to get my deck and patio power-washed and stained before the fall rains started. He stopped by one afternoon, saw what I was doing, and proceeded to offer his help. Amazing! Now that we live together, it’s taken me some time to get used to having a partner again – and to asking for help. If I want something done, I still start off trying to do it myself, but I do ask for his help with all kinds of things pretty regularly. (You’re welcome, babe.) As my mother always says, “Many hands make light work.” She’s right – as usual.
We think we’re supposed to know it all and be able to handle it all by ourselves. NO ONE does life without some kind of help. And this can be from big things like dealing with a cancer diagnosis to small things like finding a babysitter for Friday night. You are allowed to receive help, but you have to ASK for it first. It doesn’t matter what you need help with either because I guarantee you that whatever it is, someone else has needed that same kind of help, and there is someone out there who can provide it. Heck, I have a friend who’s built an amazing personal assistant company from the ground up because she saw that people need help with all sorts of things in their lives!
I ask for help a lot more now that I’m older and have realized I DON’T know everything, and I CAN’T do it all alone. I got over myself a little bit, I guess. To everyone who’s helped me, I thank you. Your kindness, skill, knowledge, and love are so appreciated!
And you know what? Help is out there for you too. All you have to do is ask for it.