Asking for Help

I was on my own a lot as a child, and I had to learn to figure things out because there wasn’t anyone around to ask for help if I needed it. I didn’t mind, though. I’ve always been a tinkerer and a fiddler. As a teen, I rewired my old Walkman to my car speakers so I could have a tape deck in my 73 Super Beetle. When my kids were small, I once replaced a heating element in my dishwasher because I didn’t want to have a repairman tromping around during their nap time.

It took me years of insanity, being a full time working mom, before I finally broke down and hired a house cleaner. It was the best money I ever spent, even though I felt guilty for a while because I couldn’t do it all.  But the truth was – I really couldn’t do it all. And I love a clean house. I’d come home exhausted from work and cry tears of joy that my house was spotless, my laundry done, my toilets clean. It was a tremendous gift to myself. I could have a big job AND a clean house, if I just asked for help. It seems silly now that I waited, and suffered, for so long.

But still, I think many of us have trouble admitting we need help. It always felt like a defeat. I should be smart enough to figure things out, I thought, and admitting I need help is a sign of weakness. My mind knows that it’s just an artifact from childhood, this Sicilian notion of pride and honor, weakness and strength.

I’m happy to report that I’m getting better at asking for help, and accepting it.

When I started writing this book, I struggled for a full year alone before I found help. The thought of going cold-calling on writing groups sounded like pure misery to me. I wasn’t ready to share my writing with a group of strangers. I didn’t want to wander, looking for my people. So, I found a writing coach. I found her online. She helps intuitive empathic types like me – a classic Meyer’s Briggs INFJ – get their books written.

She is my gentle reader. She sees the things I don’t see, she offers me her feelings as a reader and her insights as a writer. We speak the same mystical language. Paying her to read my stuff is another tremendous gift to myself. I’ve made great progress. My book has a heartbeat, and I’m gaining confidence as a writer.

And sometimes, the help you need shows up without asking. There is that old saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. There is synchronicity at work, magic, even. This happened to me recently, and it’s been a great kick in the pants.

Sometimes the Universe knows better than you if you need help, and people show up, like little love notes, to help you along your path.

Do not refuse their help. There is always something to learn by saying yes. There is a certain grace that comes when you accept the help you need. It means that you’re serious. It means that you think you’re worthy. It means you’re willing to invest in yourself.

While I was struggling, I had to ask myself what I would rather have at the end of my days: My stubborn pride, or having written a great book.

I chose my book. I asked for help.

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