The NY, NY prompt this week is about asking for help. How timely. As usual...
I need help. I definitely need it far more often than I ask for it. Despite being the kind of person who tends to do too much and offer help too freely, I feel as though my needing help is a failure. I'm so good at helping other people, surely I can help myself first, right? We all need it. I don't feel anything other than happy to be of service when I help. Why would me needing a hand from time to time be shameful?
I really do need help. Asking for it is all about admitting that I can't do the work of two or three people, which is hard - especially for women who are often expected to give the effect of being domestic full-time while working full-time. For me, help is also about feeling like I need permission to take care of myself (very foolish). A lot of the way I understand my worth is in my ability to do for others, to help, to meet needs before they're vocalized. My life's dream has been to create intentional community that nourishes and engages all parts of a person. A big part of that is domestic stuff - welcoming and beautiful home, good food, peaceful environment, etc. The nature of life right now is that I desperately need someone else to shoulder the domestic burden with me equally, which feels like a failure at the deepest part of my identity. Loss of control. Someone else is going to do it wroooong. There are always excuses to not ask for what you need. My current favorite is that I would ask for help and get someone in to do a thorough clean 1-2x a month, but we have a deal that it's not an available option until all debt that isn't student loans is paid off.
What it comes down to is that I don't want to take my sticky fingers off the control panel and ask the bearded giant to fill in where I'm failing myself (he doesn't think I'm failing domestically, but his standards are very, very low). The last thing I want is for him to do something as wonderful as pitch in and do an equal amount of domestic work, then repay it with negativity and criticism because he didn't do it like I would have or thoroughly. All week long, I've been thinking about this whole jumble and how it ties into my explosion of job hours. I can either ask for help and appreciate what I get, or I can power through like an idiot and be worse off than I am now. My decision was leaning towards the, "Fuck it. I'll just work a couple of days straight through, get it done, sleep through a weekend, and not have to ask for help from anyone. I used to do it all the time!" I was feeling smug.
And then I had a couple of days peppered with anxiety attacks, feeling like I'm coming down with something, crying, feeling totally overwhelmed and under-appreciated with the eighteen things I'm juggling, and to top it all off, at a three hour wedding meeting today, Kevin tried to pull me out of Super Serious Angsty Tunnel Vision Mode by throwing zany wedding ideas out, and I was a beast to him in front of a half dozen people in the meeting. Classy, Peeps. Really classy. He finally can make it to a meetings, gets involved, offers to be helpful if someone will direct him, and I'm derisive, then spend the whole car ride home crying about how I'm never going to get everything done myself -> downward spiral -> nobody will love me anymore and the rats will chew my face while I try to learn to live in a cardboard box because I failed something.
Instead of just asking for some extra help around the house in specific ways and getting that, I get a two hour conversation about ALL the ways I need help, not just getting tasks done. Communication, understanding, needing perspective. So very much help is needed and got discussed. I need help relaxing and unplugging (very true), but it turns out that when you refuse to do it for yourself, you wind up receiving help in the form of a supervised grownup time out where you have to lie down and breathe until you've truly calmed down.
The lesson is: if you don't take the hint and do what the universe is nudging you toward in a major way, you may very well have it foisted upon you in an unpleasant form that probably strips you of a fair bit of your dignity (for your own good, of course). You will actually have to do the painful excavation and uncover that some of your strongest points are rife with cracks and shoddily built. It will be awful. A fancy bath won't fix it. Food and drink won't fix it. I think the only fix is to let yourself be vulnerable and human in some of the ways that are most uncomfortable, letting yourself be helped by those who offer. Few things feel more helpless than to actually let go and let yourself be loved and cared for when you're the one who does most of the tangible caretaking.