Asking For Help


It’s official. My marbles have rolled under the bed. Or the dog has chucked them out of the window. Today I did something I have never done in eleven years of blogging: I accidentally posted something I have posted before. (Blink and you would have missed it).

After a morning of  dog walking and carrot juicing I was feeling fired up and I sat down with my little notebook full of scrawled poems and settled on one that seemed to reflect my mood. I added a picture, pressed publish and lo and behold I had posted a poem I had already shared and didn’t realise until I found myself thinking as I stood pouring water on to coffee, that the reason why the poem seemed so familiar is because I had already posted it.

I am not good at asking for help. In fact I am even pretty rubbish at taking it when it is offered. And people are so very kind. Lately I have been awash with offers of help as I continue to drag myself out of the mud that has been the past three years. They offer and I pretend I didn’t hear them. Or I mutter, please don’t worry, I am ok, no really I am ok, when it must be obvious to all and sundry that right now I couldn’t be less than ok. Shouldn’t be ok. Ok is in fact something not required of me at all right now.

You see, put it this way: If my house was a hotel and I arrived to stay here and met me, as my landlady, I would not only refuse to stay but would firmly confound matters by writing the kind of review of Trip Advisor that would make the national newspapers. Hell yes: I can no longer refer to Chez Brocante but must now call home, Shed Brocante where she who used to be Alison May now resides.

Help is a conundrum of awkward manners and the admittance of failure. Refuse it and you seem rude. Or stubborn. Or stupid and curmudgeonly. Accept it and you feel as though you are letting the whole world down. And worse than that, that you have failed in the kind of spectacular fashion it is all too obvious, the whole world can see. That makes me feel ashamed. Vulnerable. And silly. And weak. And silly and weak are the kind of personality traits I cannot abide in other people so how in the name of all things festive am I too admit that today I am feeling both silly and weak? Frankly it’s a no-can-do in a situation where help right now could make all the difference.

But people want to help. They offer time, and money, advice, cold hot chocolate and a hug. They bring flowers and a smile, they send middle of the night texts that simply say “Are you ok?” and they tell me that they love me over and over again and that none of this is my fault. That it would be ok to stop sacrificing all that I need and sit down and have a little sob for all that is lost. For all that will soon be lost. That it would be mighty fine and just downright bloody dandy to say I can’t do this right now. I don’t know what to do next on a list of a million things I don’t feel capable of doing. I’m a little frightened Sweetie…

It would be all right for me to say it and readers, my darling lovely readers, it would be all right for you to say it too. For here is the thing: if we were watching someone else struggle we would down tools and do everything we could to help them, even when we are utterly incapable of helping ourselves. We would step out of our coat and wrap it around someone who really needed it. Hand over our last penny. Stop the clock and try to fix them. I would. You would. We all would. So why is it so terribly hard to ask for help with both the big stuff (the un-paid bill, the child who seems sad, the house we cannot keep warm) and the little stuff (the door that sticks, the pint of milk we could do with someone bringing in, time out from a busy day)? I would like to say I have the answer, but I am probably ludicrously prouder or even more stubborn than you are.

So this is a turning point. Today I am going to ask for the help I need. I am going to say NO to anyone who asks me if I’m ok and then I am going to take whatever they offer because despite my reluctance to accept help, today I need it. And maybe you do too. Maybe you too need a little patience from those who care. Maybe you need to hear them say I love you and I can fix this and for once you are going to let me. Maybe you need to return the calls, answer the texts, lose yourself in their arms or let them cook dinner tonight.

Maybe it is time to stop and face the music: you cannot do everything yourself and you are destroying your whole life, trying. Your body will give in long before your head does and that is a dangerous place to be. You don’t have to keep on keeping on when you are going around in circles. You aren’t designed to handle catastrophe all by yourself. No-one, not even you, is strong enough for that.

And so there we have it readers: another blogging first – the first blog post I have written with tears in my eyes. Time to stop trying to be strong.

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20 comments on “Asking For Help

  1. Tiffani on said:

    Oh Alison, I wish I could just give you a giant hug and a big pot of tea.

  2. Please email me Alison, if I can help I will honey, dont sit alone with whatever is going on xx

  3. How i wish i could help you !! So a big ((((((((((( hug ))))))) for you !!

  4. If I lived near you, I would call in sick from work and show up on your doorstep, demanding you let me help in whatever way I could. I wish you were not SO FAR AWAY, for you have helped me through so many things with your posts. I read your monthly puttery posts every single night, along with Simple Abundance posts. We are all here for you.

  5. Alison, I, too, wish I could be of help. I have learned a lot in the past few years. One thing I now know is that you have to be specific, and tell people exactly what you need when they ask. And it is so difficult to do this. Sometimes I think I will scream when people tell me how strong I am and how well I cope with tragedy, because, of course, I am not strong, and I don’t cope very well at all most days.
    You are a woman of such great talent, and have been such a beacon to so many. Let us help you and tell us what you need.
    Love from Iowa,
    Sandi

  6. I’ve had this discussion many a time. We are all happy to help a sister out…but being the sister who has to admit to being in need of help is super-duper hard. Alison, part of becoming a whole adult person is learning to admit that you are human and can’t always handle everything and sometimes need help. Give your friends the blessing of helping you. They want to. It hurts them when you won’t let them. You know this because it hurts you when your friends will not let you help them.

    The myth that we have to pretend that we can handle it all on our own is one that keeps us apart and stops us from being the sisters we can be.

  7. Alison i think that you must have been sent to me, i am not ok and i am not ok to ask for help. its so hard to keep going but its even harder to ask. sending you much love X

  8. Elaine P on said:

    Alison you are a brave, brave woman. It is hard to ask (and it is almost as hard to make yourself not throw everything at someone you love who is struggling and thereby smother them). Sticking your fingers in your ears and tra-la-laa-ing doesn’t work and neither does toughie-not-giving-in-ness. To ask for help doesn’t make you weak even though it might make you feel terribly vulnerable – probably the last thing you need if you’re going through life thin-skinned and trying to hold it together.

    I’ll echo everyone who’d like to offer practical help. I can’t bear to think of you not being able to be warm when you’ve offered such warm words to others. And I’m sure you’re more Beach Hut Brocante than shed (although I love my shed very much :))

    Please reach back and grab those hands that are stretching out to you. Fear of failure and of being thought of as silly are all part of being human – most people are peddling like hell just to keep going in their own lives – and if they stop to gawk at you well, that’s just rubber-necking – so sod them.

    Please be kind to yourself. I hope things feel a bit better – and I’m sure they will get better.

    Finally – these people are great if you need to just talk it out with someone http://www.samaritans.org They helped me so much when I was going through a very bad patch in the past as a result of living with the neighbours from hell. And yes, I felt silly and melodramatic about being unable to cope with it. Not being able to cope is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Much love to you and your boy xx

  9. M J Dick on said:

    What do you need ? xxxxxx

  10. Dolores Lynn on said:

    Is there anything I can do? What do you need?

  11. Thanks for sharing that you feel the same way I do at times. One thing is for sure is that it will pass. The sun comes up and the birds do sing. Hugs and kisses from across the ocean blue and wish I was physically there to help. If there is any thing I can do let me know! Happy Thanksgiving and thankful for all your insight and also the blessings we do have in front of us.

  12. Barbara on said:

    Just being who you are is enough Alison. Just being there. Baby steps. You are loved.

    Blessings to you and Finn.
    Barbara

  13. alexandra Zimmerman on said:

    So sorry to hear this but so glad you are reaching out. I’ve read your blog for a long time from the states and adore it. I’ve always been very stoic and never asked for help. That was before I became a single mother and came down with RA. I’ve asked for help since then and been overwhelmed by the response. Hang in there.

  14. Gillian on said:

    Alison, you are absolutely right that it is hard to ask for help, and sometimes, having asked, it is still hard to accept it. Be brave, ask, and keep asking. Lots of love to you and Finn xxx

  15. One day at a time. And please let your friends help you, because they love you. As do your readers x

  16. Darling Alison,
    You are a strong woman, just not right now. I have suffered long and hard with depression as well. So much so that I had a rather untidy breakdown at work….could not stop crying no matter how much I tried to suppress it. I took an eight month sabbatical, sought help, got help through my Dr., psychologists and read so many books on emotional health. Turns out I was severely anemic, had a very low thyroid, and I rested, meditated, took the medicines, and the thing that I believe helped me the most was one counselor advised me to look up Cognitive Distortions. I did and found that it referenced me totally. I look at them daily. It helps to know just what you are up against so that you can. You know that nasty inner voice you have that tells you that you are useless, fat, lazy, stupid? Give her a name. When she starts talking her nasty little taunts, tell her to Feck off! I call my inner demon Rosalita. I’ll say..”Alright Rosalita, bugger off

  17. Lynn Dirk on said:

    I dont know what I can give to you my dear blogging friend. A new heart that isnt cracked? An old home that doesn’t creak? An endless supply of milk and tea and great stacks of books? An ex who grows some balls? A small boy who is utterly perfect? Oh wait, you have that last one. I am far away and not a magician so these things are impossible. But I am close enough to your pain to say I shall think of you often and lift your needs to the universe whenever I do. I will think about you in a better place mentally. I will think positively about you and your future that anything but isn’t even an option. I lift you up Dear Alison May for healing physically, mentally and spiritually and I will do so until it is done. PEACE be with you. (((Hugs))) Lynn in North Dakota, USA

  18. Darling Alison,
    You are a strong woman, just not right now. I have suffered long and hard with depression as well. So much so that I had a rather untidy breakdown at work….could not stop crying no matter how much I tried to suppress it. I took an eight month sabbatical, sought help, got help through my Dr., psychologists and read so many books on emotional health. Turns out I was severely anemic, had a very low thyroid, and I rested, meditated, took the medicines, and the thing that I believe helped me the most was one counselor advised me to look up Cognitive Distortions. I did and found that it referenced me totally. I look at them daily. It helps to know just what you are up against so that you can push away those negative thoughts. You know that nasty inner voice you have that tells you that you are useless, fat, lazy, stupid? Give her a name. When she starts talking her nasty little taunts, tell her to Feck off! I call my inner demon Rosalita. I’ll say..”Alright Rosalita, bugger off, I’m not putting up with you today.”
    Silly as it sounds it works! It helps keep you aware of beating yourself up, and to just stop it in it’s tracks. You are such a lovely inspiring woman. Keep saying THAT to yourself. A LOT. You are loved by so many people this world over! You are loved by friends and family. Try to know this to be true. Because….it is! Now for the past…leave it there. It’s done with. Don’t ruminate the thoughts (ruminating being one of the cognitive distortions) Don’t beat yourself up, with “I should haves”, or “Whys”, or whatever the painful past brought you. That painful past has taught you lessons. Use the lessons. Don’t close yourself off because you were hurt. Open your heart…slowly, carefully, but please do OPEN YOUR HEART, if only to accept the love and help your loved ones are offering you. Accept the nurturing…accept the care, and help. If it makes you cry, cry grateful tears. Relax and let people around you love, nurture and help. and sleep, lots and lots. Maybe your lovely Finn is sad because he feels your sadness. Cuddle him, feel sad together. Talk to him about your sadness….his sadness….assure him that this too shall pass. It will. Sweet Alison please be gentle with yourself…..let people love and care for you. It not only helps you, it will help them as well, giving is such a healing emotion, don’t deprive them of that. The past can be so very painful and sad. But it’s the PAST. You are through the nastiest part of it, now it’s time for you to let it go and start healing. Look forward, your future absolutely sparkles and glows and throbs with wonderfulness. Trust that. Picture it and it will become just that.

    Great big hugs and kisses.

    Julie

  19. Heather F on said:

    0h, Alison. These things will pass or at least work themselves out. Our mind makes our problems seem so insurmountable at times. I’d say, keep up with your meditation, and cry it out or write it out to keep your mind as tidy as it can. Keep up the gratitude journal. Move. Love…accept it and give it to all you care about. So many of us out here are sending you love and positive energy. Hugs and love, Heather

  20. Wishing I could help you xx