Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Outreach.

Invisible, unless you know where to look, almost all of us carry at least one and sometimes more. Heavy, cumbersome and awkward, emotional bags come without wheels and handles, just a strap to tie onto your back and loop around your heart. How many times have we heard that saying about each person we meet carrying a burden almost more than they can stand? How often do we actually talk to someone about theirs?

I am terrible at asking for help. If you've been to my house during an event, you've seen an example of it first hand. I fly around like a drunken bumblebee, doing this, doing that, often denying offers of help by saying "no, thanks, I'm almost done" or "I just have a couple more things to do." In my heart, I know people don't mind helping - they are, after all, OFFERING and yet I have trouble accepting. I have even more trouble asking.

The last year has been an exercise in asking for help. While I've never been the type to think I could do it all alone, asking for help is something I struggle with terribly. Part of it probably boils down to a combination of a need to do it myself in order to feel worthy, capable, competent. Some of it is likely related to this tendency of mine to take on too much. There's certainly a fear of failure thrown in there for good measure, and the worry of appearing weak.

Lately, my ability to hold it together is wavering. While I have faith in the notion that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, I'm not joking when I say I feel he's putting too much faith in me. Yesterday it occurred to me that maybe that's the point I've been missing. That maybe, just maybe He is intentionally giving me more than I can handle. I am having to ask for help, and I think that might just be his master plan this time.

I struggled recently with the admission to my husband and my doctor that the minimum dose of zoloft is not cutting it for me. I'm not able to handle it all, and the stresses of my pregnancy, my son's illness, my own, the complications of the last year, stress with work, my upcoming surgery - all of it piled onto my back, and I felt I was faltering. I didn't want to, but I started to ask for help. I expressed my frustration at feeling weak at not being able to just handle this.

Then something happened.

A woman I've known for three years, someone who has been a ray of sunshine without knowing it, confessed to me yesterday that she wasn't holding it together. That she, in fact, had a breakdown this weekend that left her rocked to her core. She said, "I hate feeling so weak" and in that moment I confessed what I'd been dealing with. Talking to each other about it didn't make it all go away, didn't make it all better, but we knew we weren't alone. We agreed we'd call each other if it felt that way at any point.

Then something else happened.

I checked my email and there was a message from someone I've known for 13 years. THIRTEEN YEARS, I can't even believe it's been that long. I love him like a brother, even though when we first met it didn't seem we'd click as friends. Over the years, he's been a constant source of support and encouragement, of honesty and loyalty. He's the one that told me trying to conceive was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle and he was incredibly supportive in many ways. He's hurting and struggling, and he took the bold step of reaching out and asking for help, just in case. I'm proud of him, and honored to be trusted in that way.

I hope the dark days are over soon for all of us, but I realized some things in the midst of all this. Not for one moment did I consider either of my friends weak or incapable for asking for help. I realized that for all of us, regardless of the baggage we are carrying, there are several someones who would be devastated if something happened to us. Our lives are touched by many people, not even just our families or the people we see every day - and theirs are touched by ours, whether it is said, whether we take the time to acknowledge it, or not. I think most people, at their core, want to help. Want to be needed.

And being needed can go a long, long way in this world.

3 comments:

Dee said...

I agree with your summarization--people want to help, want to be needed--so very much. The hardest part is taking that first step and asking for help. Glad to know that you and your friends were able to do that with one another :-)

Also, I can't believe I found you again! I had been following along quietly at the old blog, but then it went kaput. I had been wondering and wondering and then I saw "Lightning in a Bottle" on LAF and remembered that expression from somewhere on your old blog, or something like that.

Congrats on your dear boy (6 months late)!! I am so glad to hear that your pregnancy brought such a lovely "present" at its end. How I hope that the rest of the family is doing just as well as it sounds like he is :-)

Good Egg Hunting said...

Heard about your upcoming surgery through L&FC -- wishing you all the best for a smooth procedure and a rapid recovery.

JuliaS said...

Glad you are not weirded out by the good wishes and prayers of strangers! I know what you mean about being scared about the upcoming surgery. Part of me is glad and relieved - awful afs, like you and other issues that will be nice to not have to deal with anymore. Another part of me is sad - for all the reasons in the post I commented on previously. My surgery is Sept. 17th. and I am on antidpressants too!

Will be thinking of you and wishing you well this week!