I’ve never been very good when it comes to accepting help.
I used to see it as a weakness to allow others to come to my aid. My “I can do it myself” attitude shone through even as a toddler when I would use some random object as a tool to allow me to turn on a light switch rather than wait for someone to do it for me. I had a strong need to independent. Sovereign over my own domain.
Which made my fourteenth year very challenging. I had surgery on my hand after which complications limited sensation and function in my right arm for several months. The girl who used to turn on her own lights even when she couldn’t reach was now dependent upon someone else to help her dress each day. Not an easy lesson in learning to accept help. In fact, as soon as I was physically able, I returned to my stubborn self-reliance.
Until I started dating my ex, that is. He slowly worked to soften me. Teaching me that it was okay to accept help. I still bucked him at every turn, except when I sick and too weakened to protest. But after turning away offers of assistance, I would usually kowtow to his headstrong ways.
And he was always willing to help. From rescuing me from a misbehaving car (I swear that seems to be a recent theme in my life!) to cleaning the house to taking me out to distract from an awful day at work, he was always there to lend a hand.
And I grew to expect it. He always had my back and so I assumed he always would.
Of course, what I thought was support, was really just a distraction from the knife he plunged into my back.
What’s that saying? Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger? Well, Dear Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me, I’m strong enough already. Of course, maybe that wasn’t the lesson I needed to learn. Maybe I needed to learn to accept weakness.
I got better at accepting help during the divorce. Much like the-year-with-no-arm, I didn’t have much of a choice. Although I could dress myself this time around, I still needed assistance with many of the day-to-day necessities. But, unlike my experience at fourteen, I didn’t immediately revert to my intensely independent ways.
It was easy to learn to ask and accept help from friends and family.
But in my new relationship, it was a more difficult process. It’s hard for me to trust my husband to have my back, even though he always has. It’s hard for me to relax and depend on him for something. It feels risky. Scary. Vulnerable.
But those are necessary emotions in a healthy marriage. There is always risk.
I don’t think I’ll ever again have the blind faith that someone will always be there for me. But I think that’s okay. It means I can take care of myself if I have to and that I can accept a hand if it’s offered. It means I’m always grateful for any support that comes and not stranded if it doesn’t. It means I feel comfortable asking for assistance and that I can find a work-around if no help is available.
I think I’ve finally found a good balance now between independence and reliance.
I don’t expect help. But I accept it.