Hard Truths, Day 17 & 18: The Double Header Edition

This post is a part of a series I’m writing called 41 Years in 30 Days. If you’re down with food poisoning like I was yesterday, why not read the whole series here?

Have you ever spent 10 hours in an intimate relationship with your bathroom tile?

I have. Yesterday. Which is why you didn’t hear from me yesterday because the only Hard Truth I had to share was I should know better than to order Chinese takeout after 41 years.

I spent 10 hours throwing up everything I had and probably some stuff I didn’t have. Water, tea — it all came right back up. Around 5pm, the leg cramps were setting in because I was dehydrated (shocker) and my phone chimed.

My assistant. She’d seen my Facebook status update about vomiting for 10 hours (because apparently Facebook needed to know and I was tired of throwing up and just wanted some humans to know how I was feeling) and asked if she could bring me anything.

My knee jerk response was NO YOU CAN’T BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT AND I CANT TAKE CARE OF MYSELF YEAAAAAAAH I DONT NEED ANYONE AIGHT?

But what I typed back in a matter of seconds was, “OMG. Some Gatorade if it’s not too much trouble. Thank you.

Here’s the worst part: It never once occurred to me yesterday to ask for help. Not once. I was just resigned to being miserable and gross and sick and dehydrated and so fucking sick.

Why would I ask for help when I feel like that? I mean, I have broken blood vessels in my EYES from throwing up so hard and so often. What the fuck kind of help is there for me other than to wait this unholy viral or bacterial demon that’s crawled inside me to be vanquished by the whims of Mother Nature?

Filing my selfies from yesterday under P for PRETTY.

Also, there are no selfies from yesterday.

Well, about 45 minutes later, in walks Melina. Four bottles of Gatorade, two bananas, two apples, and a box of unsalted saltine crackers (I know, it sounds just as odd to type that as it did to read it). She took my pups for a walk, fed them, and told me to call her if I needed anything.

An hour later, I had finished half a bottle of Gatorade without incident. So I went in for a cracker.

And within minutes (seriously) I was feeling better.

She’s pretty much saved my life (or what was left of it). And y’know, it had absolutely nothing to do with me.

It had everything to do with her. I didn’t ask. But she offered.

And that’s why yesterday’s AND today’s Hard Truth is about not asking for help…

but letting yourself be helped.

Hard Truths 17 18

There’s something to be said for being self-sufficient. Being able to take care of yourself and run a business and keep any amount of shit together for any amount of time.

But people break. And sometimes, it’s not our fault that we get broken.

Help is needed.

But we are supremely shitty at asking for it. And when offered, we are supremely excellent at letting the entire world know that IMMA DO IT MAHSEF, YO.

And the odd part to me is that when I hear a friend or manfriend is sick, I’m the first one to go, “Whaddaya need?” I’m ready to make a delivery. And for all the times I’ve offered, I can count on one hand over 41 years where someone has let me help them.

And it hurts a bit when someone you care about gives you the Heisman hand gesture when you reach out to help.

IMMA DO IT MAHSEF.

Sure you are. Right when you’re able to hold down liquids, darlin’.

But IMMA DO IT MAHSEF — how often do you say that?

It takes amazing people in this world to have the wherewithal to reach out to another human being when help might be needed. And yeah, sometimes we’re just so emotionally deep in our own shit that another human being is the last thing we want to deal with.

But good people — people like you and me — we offer help.

But we aren’t good at taking it.

So I’m learning (slowly) that letting someone help me isn’t a sign of weakness.

It’s a sign of gratitude. Because lemme tell ya — it’s been a long time since I’ve been as grateful as I was last eve when an offer for help came out of the blue and something so banal as unsalted saltine crackers saved my life. I was grateful for every ounce of sickly, syrupy Gatorade staying IN my system and for the feeling of those electrolyte depletion leg cramps subsiding because I sure as hell couldn’t take Advil (I tried). And after canceling three meetings and missing an evening workshop yesterday on account of barely being able to move from a throwing up position to a non-throwing up position…I was grateful.

Accepting help is a sign of gratitude.

And it irritates me that there’s all this talk about saying “thank you” out there but there’s so little talk about letting another human being help your in need ass.

We talk about helping others. But what happens when you become the others?

So today, maybe you’ll think about all the times in your life where you’ve offered someone help. And then you’ll think of all the times where someone you cared about wouldn’t let you help them and how that felt.

And then the next time someone offers to help you, maybe you’ll think twice about putting on your IMMA DO IT MAHSELF hat.

Because that person just might be saving your life in a teeny, tiny way.

It takes a lot to offer someone help. And if I can’t be good at asking for it, the least I can do is get better at accepting help when it’s offered, goddammit.

Melina Rey — you’re the shit. And I can’t thank you enough for asking me if there was anything I needed yesterday and for bringing way more than I asked for.

3 replies
  1. michgerson
    michgerson says:

    This was especially true when I had my son. I was “that” person — always cheering up a recently-dumped girlfriend with wine and chocolate, making a casserole for a friend whose mom just passed away, bringing soup for a sick friend. But when I had my baby, I had friends and family bringing casseroles, gifts, offering to take him while I slept for more than three hours. I kept apologizing and thanking them, and was met with “Well, duh, of course…?” comments. 

    But if not for them, I would’ve had a much, much harder time (and much less sleep) during my motherhood journey. They saved my life, more times than I could count. Thank you for this reminder.

    Reply
  2. MightyCaseyMedia
    MightyCaseyMedia says:

    After getting a cancer dx, I found out just how very Big Awesome the offer of help was. Accepting it was admittedly difficult at first, but it got much easier veryvery fast. 

    In the years since, I’ve become one of a global (really) network of people who are the Go-To Gang when the unthinkable shows up in medical diagnosis form. The Citizen Scientists, the Google Translate of doctor-ese and lab values into human-speak, the “here’s some ginger ale, sweetie” offerers-up when the worst of Chemo-matic is upon you. (Which you got a window into yesterday, sadly.)

    You can only really GIVE help in meaningful ways once you’ve learned how to ACCEPT it. ‘Cause otherwise, the giving is all about you, and not about the helping. We all need help. We could all get everything we need if we just … let go and let help in.

    Reply
  3. AJasonP
    AJasonP says:

    That is something I need to break in 2015 myself.  Not asking for help.  I had pneumonia in October and everyone asked if they could help with anything and my answer was always no I’m good.  So one of my “resolutions” is to ask for help but only when I need it.  I know it is ok to be vulnerable.

    Reply

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