I had a little shard of glass in my foot yesterday, Not even a shard, a grain of glass. It is amazing how something so small could be so painful. Hopping on my one good foot I swabbed down a tweezer and a safety pin. I contorted my inflexible body so that I could sort of see the bottom of my foot, and set up my phone flashlight so I could take a peek. I saw nothing- (this was one of those moments I hated progressive contacts- they neither help me close up or far away to any degree of accuracy) So I did what any normal person in pain would do- I starting blindly picking at skin, while running my finger over the spot at what I then thought was a splinter, hoping I could will it out. I exfoliated a bit of dead skin, but the foreign object was still there.
It was time to change my course of action. I called my neighbor, asked if she was home, and if so, could she grant me a rather odd request?
This was very hard for me to do. I am a person who takes her independence very seriously. I always think I can figure it out, do whatever it takes, completely unassisted. I have a husband, but I really keep him around because I enjoy his company and he takes the dog on the 10pm walk. He’s perfectly happy watching me put together furniture and fix the internet connection. I despise needy people- the kind that always need someone around, and can’t stand the pleasure of their own company- but that’s a whole other blog for another day.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that sometimes you need help from others- sometimes it’s better to get a little assistance, like asking your neighbor to get something out of your foot (I’m happy my neighbor was home because I really didn’t want to ask my doorman)
After the shard debacle, I was having coffee with a friend, someone who is more fiercely independent than I am. We discussed eventually moving to some sort of retirement community, because we realize, it would be nice to be surrounded by people in basically the same situation. To be surrounded by people that we could assist, and if need be, assist us. We realize that sometimes you need help, and it’s OK to ask for it.
I never felt comfortable asking my Mother for help. My mother has things she is completely unwilling to even try to do, like reading instructions for a board game or art project. She would tell me that instructions were written stupidly and she was not a “game person”. She was also not an “outdoor” person. Or a “sport” person. (She was, however a “shopping person”- but I digress again into a whole other blog) So I learned to read instructions, and figure out my girl scout badges by myself. But then, my Mother is also the queen of “I told you so”. There are literally thousands of topics she is “expert” in, so if I were to admit I needed help, it would require a 3 hour lecture, and then this topic would be brought up constantly. (to this day, she still brings up thing from 40 years ago) So I stopped asking for help and began to do things on my own. I wanted to be strong and capable, not weak and needy.
It’s taken 50 years for me to realize that a strong person is one that has the ability to realize when they are in over their head. It is a strong person that asks for help sometimes. A strong person knows their limitations. A weak person thinks they know it all. A weak person thinks they can handle every situation completely by themselves. I was right about wanting to be strong- I was wrong on how you become a strong person.
It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK not to know everything. I’m glad I finally realized this.