I’ve always been strong, resilient and able bodied, the first to rush to the rescue of others, the one who shows up, brings food, and can face with my friends what life delivers on a bad day.
What I am not, is good with asking for and accepting help.
But an unexpected, minor surgery currently has me bedbound for several weeks. I did my best to prepare, stocking up on what I thought I’d need, ordering books to read and even borrowing a wheelchair to navigate the short distance from my bed to the bath and kitchen. But still, it’s hard. I’m frustrated and surprised at how difficult it is to do the simplest task without standing.
I have wonderful friends, and before the procedure, they all offered to assist me with whatever I needed. But I assured them I was fine and wouldn’t need anything. Then I came home with a gaping hole in my leg that will only heal if I follow my surgeon’s instructions and stay off my feet. So, I’m in the process of walking back my hasty decision to decline support.
I must say, I’ve gained some fascinating insights through all this.
I am deeply committed to my self-image, even though it is rapidly becoming outdated. I realize I need to see myself as not only strong and self-reliant, but also as someone who is going to experience temporary situations that may require support.
Shifting my mindset to understand that letting others do some things for me doesn’t mean I am going to surrender my lifestyle or suddenly lose my independence. I can be both strong and in need of assistance.
Part of my hesitation to allow others to care for me is because it evokes some very honest emotion. I’ve realized as much as I love my friends, I am still holding back. I don’t like letting down my façade and allowing anyone to see my vulnerability.
Even though a few friends commented how uncomfortable it made them seeing me bandaged and temporarily incapacitated, they assured me I would always be the same powerful person in their eyes. That matters to me because it validates how I see myself. My friends still respect me and know this situation is temporary.
When I confessed my reluctance to ask for help and explained how hard it was for me to see myself as being needy, it brought my friends closer. Perhaps, I became more authentic in their eyes by my admission of trepidation. Whatever the reason, I know my relationships were strengthened by my honesty.
Everyone needs to feel needed, relevant and essential in their relationships. And by providing for me, my friends felt all of those things. Some even shared with me that the reciprocity changed our dynamic for the better.
There’s so much yet to discover about this life. I’m realizing it is ever evolving and my relationships will also evolve along the way, if I allow them. My lesson is to be and to stay open to change and remain as honest as I can be. I now believe if I let go of the fear of vulnerability, the insecurity of the unknown will be replaced with the assurance that those who care for me will always be by my side.
When was the last time you needed friends’ help? Were you brave enough to ask for it? How have your friendships evolved because of difficult life situations?