Hope in the Midst of Life ~ July 2016
In the last newsletter, I suggested that you all are heroes – the way you give and give, putting your children before yourself. In the movies, heroes always seem to do what they do, on their own. They conquer every obstacle without ANY help. In reality, however, heroes often require a great deal of help to do what they do. But since we don’t see that… We think we should be self-sufficient as well.
The fact is, according to Dr. Marlo Archer’s blog; “This country was founded on principles of independence and self-sufficiency. As a result, we have raised a whole nation of people who believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.” Dr. Archer goes on to talk about the settlers who came here. She says “We often forget that few of them lived to see a 40th birthday, that men were so desperate for wives that they’d buy them sight-unseen, and that people had 8-9 children because 2-3 of them would routinely die. We also tend to forget that there were several groups of people already living here and doing quite well by relying on each other. We also tend to forget that the settlers needed other people so badly that they kidnapped some and enslaved them. So, the whole notion that American’s don’t need anyone and are self-sufficient is something that was never true to begin with, but we, for some reason, continue to teach it to our children.”
Dr. Archer goes on to talk about specialization. That said, I might know how to bake and apple pie, but I can’t fix my computer past turning it off and then back on! The reality is – we need each other!
According to the “Provisional Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults, National Health Interview survey of 2008, 2009,” “Caregivers of children are twice as likely as the general adult population to say they are in fair/poor health.” I’m guessing that each one of you can understand why this might be! Perhaps this is a giant red flag waving in the breeze.
Even so, it can be very difficult to ask for help. It is one thing to ask for help ONE time, or even two, but to just keep needing it! … “Come on, other people are busy too.” But your situation isn’t changing… this is long term life…. Not something that you deal with today and it is done and no more help is needed! About this time, guilt sets in, because we “should be able to deal with our responsibilities.”… and we may begin to feel like a burden to others.
Have you ever taken a look around your life and thought – “I’ve never pictured this!”?
You are not thinking – “I haven’t found my dream job yet.” But rather, – “I haven’t found the sea yet, let alone my ‘ship’ that is supposed to ‘come in’!” We never pictured not being at least reasonably self-sufficient. It is hard to be dependent on others, even for small things. At the same time, one person can only do so much.
How do you know you need help? Is it obvious like – you can’t be in two places at once, or less obvious like… your muscles are sore and you’ve had headaches lately… or how about not getting exercise this week, or at all? On top of that, we know that children with special needs are sensitive to what is happening around them. They can sense when you aren’t doing so well, sometimes before you do, and they may become anxious. I’m sure that will not lighten your load!
So maybe you want to take a self- inventory sometime before you wake up and realize you are overwhelmed and life seems to be falling apart. When was the last time you did something FUN without the beautiful one(s) you are caring for? How long ago was it? We know that if we have a hobby of making something – and we spend, even 10 minutes a couple times a week, it helps us heal and it helps us cope. That said, you are probably thinking… “Hobby!!? I don’t’ have time for that!” But what if I tell you – this hobby – that actually TAKES more of your time will HELP you cope? It’s true. What should it be? As long as you make something – music, art, food, coloring, etc., it doesn’t matter. The only rule is – you have to enjoy it! Just make something!
What if there’s another way to look at asking for help?… I’m guessing you might say, being a caregiver for your child is difficult, but you wouldn’t say your child is a burden, even if in all honesty, you are totally exhausted. Your children are gifts! But even gifts can sometimes be over whelming and exhausting.
What if you decide to stop feeling bad about needing help and are free enough to offer others the opportunity to be blessed by helping you? Have you ever thought that by not asking others to help… you are actually depriving them of blessing? I read somewhere that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Maybe the challenge really is our mindsets! What if we started celebrating the opportunities we could offer others to be blessed by helping?
I know you are probably laughing and thinking, “You have no idea how much blessing I could offer! This is ridiculous!” But actually, I’m serious. What if it never was about being a burden – but is an opportunity to allow others to be able to help, so they can grow?
Have the courage to ASK and offer someone a chance to be blessed. It will help them more than it helps you.
Janet Miller MA LPCC