17 September 2013

on what we need

Courtney and I joke because, anytime I leave a doctor's office, I call her and tell her, unabashedly, that I have a crush on the doctor.

And I mean it. Sincerely. I almost always leave appointments genuinely smitten, thinking about what his wife must be like. Do they host fun dinner parties together? Does she ask him medical questions? Do they have children? I wonder when they met. Did she go through residency with him?

During a recent appointment, as I sat there, wondering what this tiny old man was like outside of the office, I had a moment of clarity.

I am pretty bad at asking for and accepting help. Not pretty bad. Bad. And in the confines of a doctor's office, there is no way around it. I have to ask for help; I cannot do it myself. I cannot figure it out on my own or take care of it without him.

I think when you accept help, even from a stranger, it forces you to let them in. To accept the help is to admit: I need you a little bit. I am grateful for you. I will take this gift that you are giving me, even if you don't know how badly I need it. Even if I might not be able to repay you.

I noticed my issue with accepting help most clearly last fall when I broke my foot. Melissa and Katie repeatedly asked me how they could help. Did I need food? Could I please stop hopping down the stairs on one foot with my laundry basket? They would wash it for me.

Or even worse, when I went to the hospital immediately after I broke my it, the nurse took one look at my foot and told me I needed to sit in the wheelchair.
Right back at him, I took one look at his wheelchair and said: No thanks. I'll walk.
Quickly he said: No, you cannot walk on that. I will be sued. 
And I said: OK. I will hop. 

I couldn't, wouldn't admit I needed that wheelchair to help me. I was fine.

And I don't think I'm alone, here. I think there is a bit of a culture around this. Especially as girls. Especially as single 20-something girls. We've trained ourselves not to need things. Not to be needy. Not to accept help, because what if the help goes away, and we've become reliant on it? No. We are limitless; we do not need anything.

But this week, I found myself on the opposite side of the equation.

A friend of mine is going through a very difficult battle. She has more on her plate right now than any human could or should manage. And I want to help her. I want to bear any burden I can for her. I'll make her a meal. Get her groceries. Bring her coffee. Sit with her and talk or not talk. But she isn't ready to accept my help.

And while I was asking her to please, please, allow me to do just one thing, I realized that sometimes, the people that love you are offering to help not because you cannot do it. Not because you aren't enough. But because when you love someone, even if you know they can carry the weight of the world, they shouldn't have to. When you love someone and can't find a way to solve their problems, you want to find a way to wrap them in your love and ease their pain. With coffee, with conversation, with quiet.

With anything that might provide a moment of peace; a break from the pain.

Yearning to help her reminded me that we all spend time on both sides of the equation. We all have days, weeks, months where we need a little help, and that's OK. Not because we aren't enough, but simply because sometimes it's easier to ride in the wheelchair than it is to hobble.

And, before you know it, you'll be the one doing the pushing again.


  1. I have this problem myself - I cannot bring myself to ask for help. And when I really want to help someone, they are usually hesitant to accept help. Why is everyony so hesitant about help (myself and you included)??? LOL.

  2. This is a great post. I constantly find myself willing to do things myself than ask for help but then becoming resentful when I don't get help. Great post to make me acknowledge this.

  3. such a beautiful post, whit. i never realized how bad i was at asking for/accepting help until crosby was born. and then i realized how sometimes you just need true friends to step in and give you the help you don't realize you need. you are such a servant. xoxoxo


i'd loooove to hear from you! you make my day! <3