Taking Care of Myself vs. Asking for Help

posted in: Observations | 4

I’ve realized something about myself this week. I’m not exactly proud of it either. It seems that I’ve spent so much time learning to take care of myself, that I have a hard time admitting when I might need some support from my friends.

That’s not to say that I regret that I am capable of taking care of myself. That’s been a long time coming. And it’s not to say that I don’t get plenty of support and help from my wife. I absolutely do. But, with her traveling halfway around the world, and this having already been a stressful week, I realized that I just really wanted someone to talk to, but really don’t know how to ask someone to do that. I wound up emailing a few friends instead, and even then I found myself saying things like, “oh no, I’m fine it’s under control I can take care of myself, no worries”, because I just really didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t take care of myself.

Of course, logically, I know that part of taking care of myself is leaning on friends for support. I just don’t like having to do it. I want to be self-sufficient during the times my wife is traveling, no matter what happens. I don’t mind leaning on her, we lean on each other all the time. Those are the roles we play with each other. I’m used to playing a certain role with many of my friends, and I’m not really comfortable switching out of that role into one where I need them to help me. (Hmm, I like to play my role and not change anything up, sound like I grew up in a family with an alcoholic much? lol)

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So my question is, how do I get out of my comfortable role and, more importantly, how do I know which friends can switch out of their roles and be a source of support when I need it? I’m not used to looking for that in my friends, but I have a feeling I’m going to find out which ones I can depend on.

4 Responses

  1. Karen

    Excellent post. You are so real! A phrase came to mind as I read your post…”take a risk”. You asked how you can know which friends you can ask for help and which ones you can’t. As I have healed from abuse and am learning how to have healthy friendships, I’ve learned that I won’t know which friends will be capable of supporting me until I ask or begin trusting them. It has felt like a HUGE risk but I have learned who I can truly depend on and who I can not. I’m still friends with those who proved not to be a support in this area but our friendship does not include this level of closeness. I found I did survive taking the risk. At first, I wasn’t sure I would emotionally survive it but I have. It’s been completely worth it. I have confidence, as you begin to reach out, you will find those around you ready and willing to give you the support you need. As for the ones who can not offer you support, for whatever reason, well, at least you’ll still be able to enjoy a beer with them. 🙂

  2. Breeya

    I can completely relate to what you are feeling. I also find really hard to rely on friends, and scares me to feel that I might not be so ok by myself.
    As you say, part of taking care of yourself is knowing when you need to ask for help, to learn how to get support from others.
    I tend to do exactly as you do, and even when I reach out I say “but I am ok really…etc”.
    But I have found that is is good for me to actually bring myself to say I can do with some support. It is a part of me I need to develop, being able to accept help, and open the possibility that friends will be supportive.
    As you, I rely on my partner, but I have found that when I have relied on friends and they have responded, (which unfortunately is not always the case) I find myself having a better outlook at the world. Is like bit by bit I might be starting to consider that I can trust people, not just my partner, but I wider circle of people.
    And that is a very positive feeling. I am not sure exactly how to describe it.
    I think I get a lot more than some extra support form a friend. I get to expand my world, and my comfort zone.
    I learn that there is warmth and care outside and that makes me feel a bit more optimistic about the world.

    Of course, there is a risk of disappointment. you can’t know who is going to be there for this until you try.
    Sometimes people, friends, can’t help, not because they don’t want to but because they don’t know how. It is a bumpy road, but it is worth traveling.

    • MikeM

      Interestingly enough, the day after I wrote this post, I got an email from an old friend inviting me to dinner. So we had a chance to chat, have a few laughs and generally get outside of my own head for a bit. I don’t think she read this, but it was quite the coincidence, and exactly what I needed. As much as I fret over whether people will respond when I need them, it was nice to have someone reach out and ask.

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