Thursday, April 26, 2012

On asking for help.

I suck at asking for help.  Just plain and simple.  I. SUCK. AT. ASKING. FOR. HELP.


At one point a few years ago I was set to move from an apartment to a house.  One of my friends asked me about the move, and our conversation went something like….

FRIEND: When are you moving?
ME: I don’t know, in a few weeks.
FRIEND: When were you going to tell me?
ME: I don’t know.  Well, I guess you know right now.
FRIEND: Who was going to help you move?
ME: I was going to help myself, I guess?
FRIEND: How were you going to move your couch?
ME: I don’t know – very carefully I guess.
FRIEND: So are you saying you weren’t going to tell me when you were moving and you weren’t going to ask me for help?
ME:  Um, no? Is that bad?

I wasn’t trying to be rude.  I wasn’t trying to leave someone out of my life.  It just never struck me that I could/should: a) tell someone when I was moving, b) ask someone for help and that c) people are willing to help me.  In the end, I got help moving and everything settled in safe and sound.

Two years ago I was getting tested for epilepsy after I had passed out from having my blood drawn and had a seizure.  The test uses an electroencephalogram (EEG), which my best friend Mandy uses in her research on language acquisition.  I remembered her using an EEG and called to tell her I was going to get one, but did not think to tell her the why.  The conversation went something like….

ME:  Hey, don’t you use an EEG in your research?
ME:  Cool!
MANDY:  Why do you ask?
ME:  Oh, because I am going to get one.
MANDY:  Wait, why? What?
ME: Yeah, I am going to get one.
ME:  Oh, yeah.  I passed out after having my blood drawn.  And then I guess I had a seizure.  They are worried I could be epileptic or something.
MANDY:  What? You are getting tested for epilepsy and you are just telling me now?
ME:  Um, yeah.  I guess.
MANDY:  Steph, that is a really big deal.  Who else did you tell?
ME: I think I told my mom.
MANDY: So, you are getting tested for epilepsy and you told your mom and me.  Don’t you think you should be telling people or something?
ME: Um, I guess.  I am telling you now.
MANDY:  Seriously?

I wasn’t trying to be difficult.  I simply worry I am: 1) oversharing, 2) complaining or 3) making people worry unnecessarily.  Don’t worry, I don’t have epilepsy.  My body just freaks out when it knows its beautiful life force is being drained from my precious body….

So why do I suck at asking for help?

Well, I am just going to go ahead and blame society.  Okay, there is more to it then that.  However, I think the American culture we tend to value independence.  We all drive to work, we like to live alone in apartments, we get groceries alone, shop alone – we bowl alone.  Although being independent is great, there are some serious not-so-awesome parts.  

Like, how on earth was a 150 pound woman going to move a 400 pound couch by herself?  She wasn’t.  It would have been physically impossible. 

And what would happen if I was epileptic?  How could I drive to work alone? And what would happen if I had a seizure and needed help?  I would need a ride to work. I would need someone to be at home if I had a seizure.

I think that perhaps the greatest tragedy our time is that we have created a culture where we tell people they should not ask for help, that if they do ask they are weak, and that we should not help people because we are enabling them.  Do some people abuse the system and suck our resources?  Yes, they do.  However, there are also millions of people that need help and – like me – are too terrified to ask for it.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter who asks for help or why.  At the end of the day, every one of us is a child of God.  God did not create billions of humans so we could fight it out alone and do everything by ourselves.  We were created to help each other, and to serve each other.

This week I went to the Emergency Room.  I was having severe stomach pain.  In rare form – I called someone to ask for their help – my boyfriend.  He was visiting his parents an hour away.  However, I called – and he came.  I had just had my blood drawn – and yes – I had a seizure… and he was there.  If God is within all of us, then that means that when you reach out for help from another person you are really asking for God.  As I woke up from passing out, I called out for God.  And God came.  He didn’t come in the form of bright lights or singing angels.  He came in the form of a man who loves me very much and cares for me very deeply.  The next day as I worked on feeling better, I asked for help from God again.  And he surrounded me with my boyfriend’s family.  When I was not feeling great, they helped – they were there – they showed me the love of God.

So.  Yes. I suck at asking for help.  But as I evolve in life, I have gotten so much better.  In less than a year I have gone from not telling anyone about getting tested for epilepsy – to calling and asking for help when I need it.  And you know what?  It is awesome.  I deserve help.  I deserve love.  And so does every other person in the world.

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