I remember when I was in my 20’s and people were constantly asking me if I were going to have more children. I heard things like ” When are you going to make Chris a big brother?” to ” You need to have more babies so you can have someone to take care of you when you are older.” I was so bothered by it. I remember discussing it with my dad. “Why does everyone want me to have babies? Why won’t they leave me alone?” , were some of the things I told him people were saying to me. In this voice that sounded as frustrated as I was he said “tell those people I said to leave you alone. You can have a room full of children and there is no guarantee they are going to take care of you when you get old!” I gave my dad a big hug and a kiss and told him I would always take care of him. He looked at me and told me I didn’t ever have to worry about that, just take care of myself. Honestly, I ignored the statement, gave him a peck and went about my day. When my father became ill, one of the most devastating things that happened to him was he was unable to work. He took pride in working and taking care of his family. The thought of someone else having to do something for him was something he could not deal with. Even something as small as me fixing his pillow while he was in the hospital. “No I got it baby, you sit down”, he would say. I was so frustrated because he would not allow me, or anyone else for that matter, to do anything for him. It was my pleasure and you always want to help those you love. My father had been so used to doing things for others, receiving was not something he was accustomed to. I insisted on helping so I just did what I wanted to and helped without offering. He fussed and I ignored him. For the life of me, I could not understand why he was so stubborn.
It is so easy for us to say things like we don’t have any friends or anyone to take care of us because we are so used to being strong on our own. This is a box I have put myself into many times and it takes a friend or family member to get me out of it. When you’re single and your only child is an adult, it is easy to look around and think you are alone. I recently had to schedule an outpatient procedure and I was determined to do everything on my own. I thought I had everything in order until the doctor told me I could not use Uber to and from the procedure. Are you kidding me? What are single people supposed to do? What about people who don’t have anyone in their life? I was so mad, I even tried to get the doctor to make an exception to the rule. The answer was a big fat NO! Now mind you, I had friends asking me if I needed anything and offering to take me, but I declined. I did not want to be a bother and I did not want to feel like I was taking someone away from something important. It is my procedure and my responsibility to handle it. The closer it the date approached, the more and more anxious I was getting. I could not figure out a way to make it come together. One day as I was venting on the phone with a good friend of mine, she finally told me she was going to take me. I thanked her and declined. She then said without hesitation, ” Landa, that is what friends are for. You are not alone and I want to help you.” I finally agreed to the help, but not without offering to pay her for her time and gas. She got upset and told me ” I would not have offered if I could not do it. You don’t have to pay me. You need to learn how to let someone be a friend to you because you are a good friend to me and so many other people.” I thought about my dad and how he didn’t know how to receive. Neither did I. I was forced to think about all of the loving people I have in my life and how I am willing to do anything for them if asked. I need to open myself up to receiving help when I need it.
We are proud to say we can do it all and we have not had to have any help at all. Along with pride, we often feel as if we are burdening others by asking or allowing them to help us. As much as I tell people they are not alone and we are all one, I struggle with it just like everyone else. In some strange way, I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness. It’s actually the opposite. It’s a sign of strength. We show just how strong we are when we are able to receive.
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” ― Brené Brown