I like to think of myself as a generally helpful person. I don't think twice about helping a stranger pick up things they have dropped or pushing rogue grocery carts over to the cart corral in the parking lot. Of course I do all sorts of things for my kids and would be glad to help family and friends if they needed it. Accepting help, on the other hand, is not my favorite thing. It may be a sort of pride or determined independence, but I hesitate to accept help when offered and would almost never ask for help (shudder).
I'm going through a personally difficult time that is just so emotionally draining, I have almost nothing left to give. However, I still have to work 40 hours a week. I still have three kids that need love and reassurance and attention and, you know, expect dinner every night. It's been tough. And still, my first instinct was to act as if everything was okay. To just carry the burden myself and stuff it down. It really made me feel better. Just kidding- it was awful. Keeping these major distractions inside made it so much worse. As I have started sharing my situation with friends and family, my load has felt a little bit lighter. It is still there, of course- but it seems a little bit more manageable.
Accepting help reminds us of how loved we are when we feel unlovable. My dear sister has listened to long, tearful phone conversations, numerous complaining emails and has repeatedly offered to come visit or have me visit her. I have spoken with two friends who have previously been in a similar situation to mine and their advice has been golden. One has exchanged numerous, lengthy Facebook messages with me offering support and tons of things to consider I had not thought of yet. Another sat with me for over three hours in Starbucks Saturday listening to me cry and say all the things I needed to say (probably more than once). She also offered fantastic perspective and texted me Sunday to say "Hey, I'm making you and the girls dinner tomorrow night. Is 5:00ish okay for delivery?". If she had asked what she could do, I'm sure I would have told her nothing, I'm fine. I'll admit I hesitated a moment before texting back that 5:00 was fine. I ended up feeling really grateful that she took something as simple yet overwhelming at the moment like making dinner off my plate. The girls and I enjoyed a delicious hot meal that I didn't have to think about, and I felt like special.
If you need help, please don't be afraid to ask for help or to accept it when offered. People genuinely care about you. If you are the one helping, please know that it is appreciated. Any small gesture may be the one thing that person needs most and will remember for years to come.