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The Strength in Asking for Help

I lay on the sidewalk not knowing if I could move. Lilo was startled, her leash tangled between both our legs. I could hear the cars driving by, one after another, nobody stopped to even ask if we were OK. I carefully sat, my leggings were torn and my knee was bleeding. My arms were scrapped and bloody, I was starting to swell. Thankfully I’d put my limbs out in front of me before I hit the ground. All I remembered was the sound of a motorcycle, the dog getting spooked and me tripping over her, sending us both into the ground. I wanted to cry. This week had really sucked.

The dog looked at me with an apologetic look. If she could speak, I know she would say she was sorry. I slowly stood up and limped all the way home. Once I got somewhat cleaned up, I called my ex and asked for help dressing my wounds. He messaged me back to say he didn’t feel like coming over to help. Hmmmm… OK.

And this is why I don’t fucking ask anyone for help.

I’ve always been independent and have learned not to rely on other people. The truth is that it is vulnerable to ask for help and I hate feeling like I am in a position where I feel like I will owe someone something. I asked this ex for help because he specifically said I should ask and let him help me more often. So I did, and then he rejected me. Ouch.

I started to make up crazy stories in my head about all the reasons he didn’t want to help me. Maybe he already met someone new, maybe he never cared about me… and that went on and on. The reality is that whatever the reason was, it didn’t matter. Not wanting to help was about him, his reasons, his boundaries and had nothing to do with me. I was proud of myself for having had the courage and taking the step to ask. I now know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s the opposite and shows strengths by admitting you don’t have all the answers. It means being open to sitting with uncomfortable emotions such as fear, humility, embarrassment, etc.

At that moment, I was embarrassed that I fell and hurt myself, I was humbled by the act of asking for help and I was afraid of rejection. I definitely sat with very uncomfortable emotions, and boy did I feel them deep in my heart.

This situation taught me a good lesson about creating a safe space for someone who asks for help. I’ve realized that when someone reaches out, especially someone with whom you’ve had conflict, it’s likely because they’ve exercised all options and you are probably the only one left that can help. So when an unlikely person recently came to me for help, I treated them with compassion and kindness - even if all this person has given me in the past is ugliness and disrespect. I offered my support (with boundaries) and acknowledged their vulnerability and courage.

My lessons in asking for help are:

  • It’s OK to ask for help

  • It’s OK for someone to say they can’t help

  • It’s OK for you to tell someone you can’t help them

  • Treat anyone who needs your help with compassion and kindness, remember it took them courage to ask

  • Surround yourself with good people who will walk through the gates of hell with you

  • Offer help with love and positive intentions

  • Don’t expect anything in return for helping

  • Don’t feel like you owe anyone anything for their help

For more on this topic, check out a great book on this topic, "Mayday!Asking for Help in Times of Need" by Nora Klaver.

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