You know, when my marriage fell apart, I knew I had a lot of emotional baggage to unpack. After all, how could I allow myself to spend so many years in an abusive relationship? There was no excuse. After all, I grew up in a super supportive family with parents who loved me, so why would I let someone treat me so badly when I had no template for that?
Trying to figure out what was going on inside my head and changing my self-destructive patterns was very important to me, so after I left my husband, I decided to try therapy.
Now, you’d think that by meeting with a therapist I was reaching out for the help I so desperately needed at the time. And I was…sort of. Except I was lying to my therapist.
It’s true. I’m not proud of it but there was a part of me that felt so much shame about not ending may marriage sooner. And the worst part was the shame I carried around about asking for help.
But why? It didn’t make sense! I mean, I could almost understand the fact that I felt like I couldn’t ask for help from my family. I was embarrassed about what I was going through and I didn’t want to upset them. But why was I having such a hard time asking for help from a professional–someone I was actually paying for her expertise?
The good news is, if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone. The bad news is it’s an epidemic.
Over the years, working with women from all walks of life, I’ve learned that most of us won’t ask for help. In fact, we’re taught that we have no business asking anyone for much of anything.
And we’re really quick learners. We learn from our families, society, and other women that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We learn that we’re expected to have our shit (and everyone else’s) together at all times. We learn that we should be able to “do it all” with a smile on our faces. We learn that someone else must have it all figured out, probably does it better than we can, and therefore we should do whatever it takes to save face and NEVER admit defeat.
Whew! Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
We’re smart enough to know deep down that we can’t go it alone. In fact, we don’t hesitate to offer our time and energy in support of others, so it only makes sense to lower the bar a little bit when it comes to ourselves.
As for me, I’ll be forever grateful that that therapist saw right through me all those years ago. She knew I was putting on a show and that I didn’t in fact, have it all figured out. Or anything figured out, really.
She extended a hand to me, allowing me to let my guard down and be honest about what I needed. She showed me the value of being open to support from another person.
These days I no longer avoid asking for help like the plague. If I need help in my business, I hire the experts. If I need help at home, I ask my partner or my parents to carry some of the burden. And you know what? I have a much bigger capacity to experience joy because I’m not hell-bent on keeping up appearances.
Imagine how different your life would look if you felt no shame in raising your hand for help when you needed it. Imagine if each of us did our part by showing each other that asking for help is a sign of strength because we’re better together.
Maybe all it takes is a little practice?