I am a strong woman, maybe even too strong in some ways. I raised my daughters alone for most of their lives, held down a job in a high pressure, male dominated environment, was team mom, band mom, taxi driver, doctor and all of the other things that go along with being a single parent. I fought for “me time”, not always successfully and was underappreciated by companies who see my job as “burden” and am beaten up regularly for expecting expenses and transactions to be properly documented. I learned the hard way to fix a clogged drain, manage time and stretch a dollar until it squeaks.
What I am still trying to learn, however, is to ask for help and have discovered that I am not alone in this weakness. I have, over the years, had a million reasons for my inability to seek assistance. Here are the top three:
1. Admitting I need help is admitting that I’m weak.
2. If I admit I can’t cope alone, I’ll lose my tenuous hold on everything.
3. Everyone has their own problems. Why would they want to take on mine too?
Over the years, I have learned that there are several falacies in the logic attached to these excuses (and that really is all they add up to be).
1. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak.
2. People need to be needed, and helping someone else takes them out of their own problems for a little while.
3. Asking for help makes you approachable and allows others to seek you out for your own expertise when they are out of their comfort zone.
4. Asking for help opens you up to love and caring which may not fix the problem, but relieves the associated stress and allows you to more clearly think it through to the solution.
I realize that just going to friends and saying “I’m drowning. Can you help me figure this out?” is not something we Strong Woman types do well, much less easily. But there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.
You can depersonalize it by saying something like “What might you do in a situation like this?” or, like me, you can just share what you are feeling in a public forum like this and allow others to decide whether or not they want to offer insight.
Obviously, I prefer the latter, and am finding, much to my incredible joy, that it works amazingly well. For one thing, it gives people the option to answer publicly or privately because I link my posts to Facebook. (Sorry kids, but I have a strange, unexplainable aversion to Twitter and refuse to open an account!). For another, it opens the question up to people with whom I might not normally interact, but who might really have some insight into what I’m experiencing.
People have been telling me lately that it really takes guts to be so open and honest like this, but from my standpoint, it is much easier than having a conversation, face to face, with a friend about it. I’m able to put the feelings out there, edit them before I publish and, to some degree, detach the emotions and just deal with the issue itself. There is also a huge bonus to putting things out here. People may not have a solution, but they offer something infinitely more valuable: Love, Positive Energy and Moral Support.
A side effect of being a Strong Woman is that, invariably, you spend a great deal of time alone. Being reminded that that aloneness is really only on the Material plane and that Spiritually, help and support is there for the asking is an amazing tonic for whatever ails you!
For myself, after writing a heartfelt, sad girl post late last night (which, by the way, is the most read post AND the one with the most comments since inception of my blog!) and waking up to an overwhelming show of support from many different directions, I found myself smiling at everyone and everything when I took myself out for breakfast before grocery shopping. It didn’t matter that the day was overcast and threatening rain, I felt so loved that I couldn’t help but find that elusive happiness which escaped me last night!
* * * * *
As I began gathering and sorting in preparation for some much needed chores, I found myself thinking: “I guess I might as well get some laundry done so I haven’t completely wasted the day.” when I realized how much I’ve actually accomplished!
Sure, I lazed over breakfast but I was reading a book that will, with a little luck and a lot of persistence, help me launch my new career. I got all of the groceries I’ll need for the next week (fresh fruits and veggies are much tastier when they’re actually fresh!). But the best part of today was in working through yesterday’s blue flu with a lot of help from friends, both old and new.
I also spent part of the day reading UBC posts and being further inspired, invigorated and impressed (how’s that for an unintentional grouping of “i” words?).
And let us not forget a lovely hour spent meditating and a day spent just hanging out with my furry children, each of whom has stopped by to tell me about their day at least a time or two.
OK, so the bathrooms and the floors didn’t get scrubbed as I’d hoped, but there is a lot to be said for “down time” because, in reality, there’s nothing “down” about it. It is a time when I do things that uplift me and feed my spirit. Everything I did today helped restore my faith in the most important person in my life: ME!!
These days, I don’t have anyone other than the cats depending upon me directly any more. The girls are grown and have their own lives. Although I’m good at my job and people come to me to teach, advise and resolve, they could and would find someone else if I were to decide to leave tomorrow. The company survived without me for about 14 years, after all! What this all means is that I no longer have any reason to feel guilty for spending time on me instead of someone else; for seeing to another’s needs before my own. Whatever I do to make myself happy, to make myself a better me, is, to steal a line from Kenny Chesney, “time well wasted”.
My gratitudes tonight (and it’s going to be tough limiting it to 5!) are:
1. I am grateful for the outpouring of love and support I am receiving.
2. I am grateful that when I am down, there is always someone or something around to chase my blues away.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned, and those yet to come.
4. I am grateful for those who inspire and guide me to my new career path.
5. I am grateful for days that I give to myself.
Love and light.