Monday, June 15, 2009
Why is it so hard for us to ask for help? And, furthermore, why are we so incapable of asking our friends for what we want?
In the last month or so I have done a couple of things that have made me feel supremely uncomfortable. When my husband was out of town for a week, I called out to friends (mostly couples) to see what they were up to on a Saturday night and asked if I could join in--it was one of those weekends that ended a week of constant, round-the clock, childcare duties and, while I often dream about early nights in bed watching t.v., those dreams usually include my husband next to me. In a nutshell: I wanted to be out, with people. Then, in planning a party for my sister's upcoming wedding, I solicited help from other people, foregoing my usual refrains of "Don't bring anything," "It's not a big deal!," "Seriously, I got it covered!"...
I'm not used to asking people for anything. And I know I'm not alone in this respect.
I've talked about this a few times with close friends--this sort of inability to be anything less than The Woman Who Does Everything (And Looks Fabulous While Doing It.) On the one hand, I think we all realize that everyone we know at this point is busy--with kids, work, family, life--and why would we want to add any more stress to that. On the other hand--at the risk of cuing the 80s soundtrack--isn't that what friends are for? To help when you're having a party, to talk you through whatever you are going through even though it is 3 a.m., to watch your kids for a few hours so you can get a haircut...I could go on and on...
It's the weirdest thing. I love being the go-to person for people. I love helping people--and a part of that is selfish because I love the feeling I get after I have helped somebody. This sort of small sense of fulfillment, in the world of everyday craziness. And yet--at the same time--it takes me forever and a day to let somebody be the mirror image for me. To let people help me--whether that means bringing spinach dip to a dinner soiree or letting somebody see my cry when I am scared.
Why is that? What is this image so many of us are trying to project? I know that nobody wants to seem needy, weak. But I also know--we all know--that nobody is Superwoman. I don't know anybody who wears a cape and can fly. And, for the lucky amongst us, we know that we have fabulous, loving people in our lives who are ready and willing to transcend that divide between friend and family, who would feel privileged and honored to be in our inner circles, who already love us, warts, (stretch-marks, those extra 5 pounds) and all.
I'm trying to let people in. I'm trying to not always be "fine!" I obviously don't want to be a constant parasite on people but I am getting okay with asking somebody to pick something up on the way to my house, or to drop me off at the airport. These were things that would have horrified me before. And I gotta tell you, in addition to making life easier, letting people in--really letting them in--has an added bonus: It makes friendships even deeper.