I was in Home Goods shopping this morning but only to pick up one thing. As I entered the store, I noticed a woman struggling with a piece of furniture. It did not seem heavy but it was clearly awkward to handle. I asked if she needed help. Initially she said no, then quickly reconsidered and said yes. Then she asked, “Why do we women so often say we don’t need help when we actually do?”
Before I could respond she answered her own question and said, ”Pride.” ” I am in recovery,” she continued, “and this is one thing I learned. We must ask for help.” I nodded in agreement and kept my mouth closed. Then briefly, as women sometimes do, we began to engage quickly and intensely with each other as though a veil had been raised on one of our behaviors. And although I’d not thought about this in this particular way before, I came away having to agree with her.
Her learning was that as children we were conditioned to be self reliant. Stand on your own two feet. Learn how to take care of oneself. Don’t ask for special treatment. The flip side is many of us do not do a good job asking for help when we need it.
But this got me to thinking about how this early conditioning functions as the blueprint for how I have lived my life. In my family we did not borrow from neighbors even though as working poor, we had a need to do this. We lived close to two of my mother’s sisters. But I do not even recall borrowing even from them.
As I have grown — not just younger but boomer-wizer —I realize that if I ask for help, rarely do people say no. We do not have to go it alone. So when I offered help to someone I didn’t know, it’s because I recognized my former self as she struggled alone to get this item into her basket.
Is this something you have dealt with?