Asking for help has been really bothering me lately…
Before writing this post, I read a lot about the topic. It seems that the experts agree that it is a strength to ask for help. They actively promote asking for help.
But that just felt wrong to me. I’d been advocating for months for a loved one and getting absolutely nowhere. Maybe it was because I was pushing against a bureaucracy. Honestly, I had laid my heart on the line to those bureaucrats, pleaded my case, and they wouldn’t help. It was only when I paid A LOT for expert help that I was able to get changes.
Lesson learned? Without money, change in a bureaucracy is difficult. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the US and all over the world who don’t have money, who ask for help but don’t get it.
yesterday, when I was in the Boston Children’s Hospital parking deck, I found an opportunity to counter it. As I got off the elevator at Level 6, I saw a woman standing by her minivan. I passed her to get to my car and heard her ask a man across the way, “Can you give me a jump?” He told her no. As I got my child into the car, I heard the minivan driver ask another group to help her get her car started. I didn’t hear the answer but saw her start to open her hood so it looked like she’d gotten help. I got my child settled, got into the car and looked at her again. No one was there.
After reassuring my child, I got out and walked over to make sure the minivan driver had help. In the back of the van was a little girl crying in her car seat. The minivan driver, who I now dubbed Minivan Mom, looked flustered. “I can give you a jump if I can find my cables,” I said. “I have cables,” Minivan Mom said. It didn’t take long and her minivan was on its way. She was incredibly grateful, hugging me and telling me that I was a lifesaver.
So what’s going on here? Why would people refuse to help Minivan Mom? Why have I been hitting my head against a bureaucratic brick wall for months, requesting help and having people refuse to change a damaging situation for my loved one? Why?
I’ve realized something important.
If you ask for help and someone says no and refuses to help, it says more about them than about you. Of course, some people get scared, some people have trouble in social settings, but then some people are simply self-centered.
Asking means making yourself vulnerable. It’s hard to do when you’re well, but when you’re sick or chronically ill, it forces you into a deeper state of vulnerability than you are already experiencing. Asking for help is exhausting. It is a change from seeing yourself as a caregiver, the one who helps, from seeing yourself as strong and independent.
However, when you ask for help and someone helps you, you are giving them an enormous gift. You are building connection and community for them, even if you never meet again.
So, keep asking, even if it is exhausting…and don’t be afraid to give help.