How to Ask For Help

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{Fibro fog = typos. If you find one, I’ll buy you a Hansen’s snoball. “There are no shortcuts to quality.”}

Sometimes help and kindness appear unexpectedly. But before anyone can know how much you need it—hard as it can be—you have to let others in on your struggles and do the hard part:

Ask.

From age 30 to 40 I’ve become more confident speaking up for what I need. I’ve learned to accept help graciously (usually). I’ve also set up meal trains for myself, reached out to my village for last minute rides to my never-ending doctor appointments, and playdates for my daughters. I add childcare help and healthy meal delivery services when things are especially rough.

I’ve been unwell for almost three years: first with pelvic pain that came with the flood of my second postpartum menstrual cycle, then an injury to my bladder during a necessary hysterectomy created ongoing complications which caused my nervous system to crap out. Boom Shaka-Laka: Fibromyalgia.

In these years I’ve lost friends who can’t take the heat of my kitchen or who let me down in times of great need. It’s sad but common. I’ve also expanded my village. Being a mama bear and edging towards/turning 40 help me ask for things from others with greater ease.

We rarely truly know the inner workings of someone’s mind, household, spousal relationship, baggage, parent/child or financial situation unless we spend time observing or gabbing about such. Even then we just get a glimpse. So, though it’s against my Cancer Crab nature of expectations—because I give a lot—I try not to dwell on what is not and focus on what is. I do hold grudges but I can also forgive. As I tell my daughters, “Being mean or mad takes a lot more energy than being nice.” Forgiveness feels much better than angst.

I’m proud of myself for growing in the midst of chronic pain. I’m grateful for the help we receive, though no matter how comfortable I’ve become asking, when you help us my Southern roots dictate a reciprocal playdate, a bottle of wine, or warm hats for your family’s move to Alaska.

How to ask for help? Don’t assume friends know you need it: Ask. Don’t take advantage. Give back. Know that you don’t deserve to suffer. Help won’t take away your pain, but it will ease your load.

 

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