Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” ― Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland
Have you ever held on to baggage to heavy to bear? Are there times when you feel/felt overwhelmed, not able to function, or scared? What did it take to let go of the heavy burdens you have placed on your shoulders? Sore, out of breath and stubborn? I’ve been there, and realized that I can still be there, right in the middle of a crisis and I shy away allowing the weight to grow heavier and heavier.
A few days ago, I was out walking my dog…I noticed my reclusive neighbor (remind you of someone?) walking back from the grocery store, which is, by the way, a 15 minute walk. Laden with 2 very heavy bags, she was out of breath, tired, and walking very slowly. She probably stopped in the IGA to buy dinner, however, like me, she probably bought more than she bargained for and took on the challenge of walking home.
As she got closer to me, we greeted each other, then she stopped at the bench to put her bags down. We did the «how are you I am fine bit» and then she looked at me and said in an out of breath tone: «Boy these are heavy!» I looked at her and said: «You seem tired, let me help you take those up the stairs» (she lives 3 stairs up in the apt right in front of mine) She replied, still out of breath «No, its ok, I am fine!» and then let out a huge sigh. The silence between us was heavy, and my mind is wandering:
“Should I insist to help her? Should I just grab a bag and start walking? Why isn’t she taking me up on my offer? I sure would. Maybe I shouldn’t… Maybe I should just ask her again…”
«Are you sure you don’t need any help? It’s not a problem, I am going that way soon anyhow. Just waiting for Gibson to do his «thing» . She looked at me and said: «NO, I am fine…» paused then said proudly in a good Québecois manner: «Chu orgeilleuse en?» Meaning, in English: I am too proud to take your offer, let me just suffer in peace while I walk up the stairs huffing and puffing.. better than making my life easier and accepting any kind of help. I must suffer you know? Or one would to translate will suffice: Martyr!
In psychology, a person who has a martyr complex, sometimes associated with the term victim complex, desires the feeling of being a martyr for his/her own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it feeds a psychological need. Wikipedia
I decided not to pursue and not to help. The old Kim would have insisted, but I allowed myself to just observe her walk back towards the apartment, still huffing and puffing. By the time I got back in, she was still trying to get up the stairs with her two heavy bags. I didn’t feel guilty, what I did feel was sadness for her and for me.
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.” ― Brené Brown
Am I still “martyring“ and thinking accepting help is a sign of weakness?
Upon observing my neighbor, I noticed there are still a few things I need to let go of.. and there are still a few things I need help with, yet I don’t ask. I am much MUCH better at asking for help than a couple of years ago, yet, I feel like asking for help is like coupons: «You can only use so many then you are on your own». Accepting the help is also a challenge today. Yet, I know I cannot do it all alone.
The fact my air conditioner is still sitting in the window, mid February, is a good example of me giving up on asking. My son’s medicare card needs to be signed, and I have not yet found someone to take me to the CLSC, not because no one wants to… because I haven’t asked anyone else since my friend got ill, and cancelled.
As I stated in my last post about asking for help, see Depressed…Need Help? The Magic of Asking, people, more often than not, LOVE to help. It makes them feel good. When they say «If ever you need a ride let me know» (and many have said this to me) they mean it! If they can’t that day, I am sure they will say no. If they go out of their way when maybe they didn’t feel like it, well I can that is on them. If someone says: «I am willing to help» Usually they are willing to help with pleasure (unless you are moving of course).
The key here is to be OPEN to receive.. open and willing, like the flower is open and accepting the light of the sun and the droplets of rain. It is natural, it is ok. it is what the flower needs to grow… The sun nor the rain “judge” the flower for taking in their love.. things just are.. life is ever unfolding.
Today, I am going to make a list of things I need help with. During the week, I am going to call those friends who offered help and ask. As hard as it can be sometimes, the worst they can say is «no I am sorry, I can’t today» and that is quite fine with me.
What things do you have trouble asking help for? Have you ever refused an offer for help even though it was obvious you needed it?