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Asking for help: more satisfying than chocolate

September 5th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Like The Redhead, I have a hard time asking for things. Instead I overload myself until I collapse. I’m that proverbial camel seeing how many straws it will take to break her back, thinking I can handle it all by myself. I’m okay. Really. I’m fine. Then, as I lie there in the dirt, I begin to ask for assistance. Often, by the time I ask for help, a disaster has ensued, one that I could have prevented if I had only said something.

Today was a disastrous day, the culmination of many minor crises. In the weeks since our trip to California, I have been busy beyond belief. I’ve been preparing for homeschooling, organizing closets, supplies and books. I think I have overhauled all the closets in the house. Over the summer our daughters changed their bedrooms. Each girl had a doctor appointment, including one in Seattle, and Elisabeth has been ill twice. Our baby of the family also celebrated her birthday – and started potty-training herself. My desk vascillates between moments of cleanliness where I can admire the grain of the wood, and piles of chaotic clutter when I can’t tell whether I have a desk or not. I feel I am constantly cleaning, doing the dishes at 10 pm or finishing the lunch ones as I am making dinner. It has been a long week with a number of issues requiring our energy as a family. Exhausted in mind, body and spirit, I’ve found myself rummaging through the kitchen seeking chocolate as comfort.

When I woke up this morning I think I had ten errands I was trying to do in two hours, due to our schedule this week. I lost my composure before the girls and I left the driveway. I needed to ask Ted for help with what was piled on my plate. I thought I would try to wait for later tonight after the kids were in bed, but by the afternoon I felt so tired I started melting down into a mess of emotion. I stopped into Ted’s office to put papers in the recycle bin and he noticed my tears. Ted came quick to the rescue. I was grateful. I guess I wish I didn’t have to ask for help. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is that I wish others would notice what I need. Or maybe I’m afraid my request – and I – will be rejected.

Or, perhaps as The Redhead mentioned, I learned in childhood that I had to be self-sufficient. As a kid, I marched around carrying an overloaded backpack, an external symbol, perhaps, of my insides. The oldest child of four raised by a single mom, I had to take care of myself and others. I couldn’t ask for help.

But it is good to ask. I find that the world can change, spin around its axis, when I have a moment to talk with my husband. Whenever I let him know what I need, he responds with wisdom and understanding. After spending time with Ted, my chocolate cravings ceased. Or at least diminished. We discussed how to change our family routines to help me more. I am hopeful. I feel peace. Funny how fast it happened, when I told him I needed help. Funny too that after all these years together, I still hesitate to tell him what I need. I guess I need more practice and more courage. In the past few weeks, Heather Armstrong of dooce has inspired me with her courage in asking for and receiving the help she needed.

Reading through my blogroll tonight was fun. Since it is a weekend – and a holiday in the States – I didn’t have many expectations for new posts, but I found myself smiling. And I did indulge myself in a small chocolate bar, after all…:-)

Tags: family

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 carolyn // Sep 11, 2004 at 11:47 am

    After living a frenetic life like yours for 13 yrs., I discovered how wonderful it is to “let go” of the fantasies and expectations I had “lived in” for 38 yrs. Life became extremely simple and utterly more satisfying to me. Now, 9 years later my boys have just moved out (19 & 20) and as much as I loved everyminute of their chilhoods, well almost every minute ;), I am having the time of my life. I have read about 12 books in the two months they’ve been out. I was commenting to a friend how lazy I’ve been and she said, You’ve been completely busy for the last 21 yrs, it’s time for a break. Yeah! Just to give you hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can accomplish peace when the children are still young. You just have to make the decision to do less.
    PS. I just finished saying good bye to my dad after I called him to help be fix my toilet! I started the project but when the drip turned itno a stream…call for help.

  • 2 tania choi // Sep 16, 2004 at 9:16 am

    hey jules,
    if i could trace all my meltdowns and crazed arguments with enoch to one thing, it would be my inabilty to ask for help. i am learning to take responsibility for asking for it, instead of expecting people to read my mind.
    i had the same childhood.
    glad it worked out, and that you’re “human” after all!