Friday, January 2, 2009

Back Up... I Need Back Up

I have some pretty complicated feelings when it comes to needing help:
  1. I don't like to need it. 
  2. I don't like to ask for it. 
  3. I don't like to accept it.


Now over the years, and through lots and lots of therapy, I have tried to work on all of these points. Most especially #2 (and admittedly I still need some work on #3). When I found out I had actually broken my tailbone I immediately called my mother to let her know that there was the possibility that I might need help. Now most sane people who don't have issues asking for, and or accepting help, might have dropped the "might" part of that request. But I'm not that healthy and asking for help from my mother... from whom... and in response to hers and my father's feelings about help I developed these particular feelings... is complicated in it's own right.

My mother and I have opposing issues. I don't want to ask for help until it is completely unavoidable. My mother has a weird built in response that urges her (I will acknowledge that she doesn't mean it) to minimize the situation and not give in to all your needs. It's hard to explain. She wants to help but I think she has a natural inclination to protect herself from being taken advantage of. She's quick to give a "you're looking on the mend" seal of approval and leave only to duck out right before the 2nd round of hell begins.

You can see how this might be difficult. I need help but hate to ask for it. My mother wants to help but something in her keeps her from being fully helpful. Maybe you can see why I started to: #1 not want to need help, #2 not like to ask for it, and #3 not like to accept it.

Well, I don't have a lot of resources and the pain in the rear is not letting up. I've tried staying off of it completely but it's not improving and the thought of Monday morning and getting back into full days of childcare, errands, driving, meal preparation is terrifying. I just can't do it. And if I do do it I'm sure I'll be headed down a dangerous and painful path that will only make matters worse for all of us. So I called my Mom this morning and said I needed help.

I should say that we (my mother and I) have spent the last 2 years working on this dynamic together. Trying to understand where it comes from and trying to get through it. My mother is not a bad mother or a bad person. At the end of the day it isn't her fault either. It's part of being human. Resenting the people who need your help (whether you want to or not) is not that uncommon. Resenting the people who are helping you isn't that uncommon either. I should know... just ask Mr F... he's been known to feel the dark side of a *helpful*, and a *being helped*, Mrs F.

I try hard not to repeat this pattern. It's a curse not to be able to ask for help and admit you need it... and it is a curse not to be able to whole heartedly help when it's needed. I don't want my girls to grow up thinking that needing help is a weakness or that there is more personal value in being self sufficient.

Thankfully my girls have two parents. And unlike my parents who came from similar stock in the help department (I'm not anywhere near strong enough to ask my Dad to come help)... Mr F and I are polar opposites. He's one of the lucky ones who will happily serve me while I lay resting on the couch. And I say lucky because being the person to hold the resentment... and know you are doing it... and hate yourself for it... is the worst part of the whole dynamic. You want to be helpful, you want to want to be helpful, but something in you fights it every step of the way. If it was him on the couch instead of me... I'd serve him... grudgingly... and with death rays shooting from my eyes by day two.

So she's coming. She said she's happy to do it. I still feel guilty. And I'm going to try really hard to let her help without getting up to show her the *best* way to slice an apple. But that is a whole different issue... for a different day.

23 comments:

Liz said...

I hate asking for help too...and I have to say that as much as I love to help people, I minimize the situation with others and think they can do it themselves...

It is a viscious(sp) circle. I need help but won't ask, someone asks for help and I think they should be able to do it.

I have asked for help (and it takes a lot...like my husband was in Iraw, I had 3- 2 year olds with the rotovirus and my mother lived 1 hour away by plane). SHE DID NOT COME! SAID I WAS DOING OKAY AND THAT I DIDN'T NEED HER! I will never ask for help again! We got through it er visits and all! I relied on paid help! That way they work for me and I don't fee so bad about it!

Wish I could come and help you! I hope this makes some sense...but I am in HAwaii and it is 6:50 in the morning and my girls are agruing! :)

Is your mom coming? Hey can you get those mormon boys to help???

Marie said...

I second all of the above. But would like to add that when help does come, I feel guilty for needing it and for not "hosting" them, so I try to do MORE than I would have if I was home alone! Like clean up all the toys/dirt/clothes, etc that accumulate so that they won't think my kids are that messy/I'm that messy, etc.. Whereas if it was just me and the girls, I would care less at the moment that there is a pb&j sandwich stuck to the table...kwim?

Hope your mom comes and gives you some reprieve. If worse comes to worse, you can look for a "Mothers Helper" on one of the babysitting sites..the college kids are out till the end of Jan. and may want to do a week or two of watching the girls while you are still there...then they can just entertain while you try to...stand.

Good luck! Only another 11 weeks or so to go, right??

Mrs Furious said...

Okay I added a bit more since YES she is coming.

Liz,
Yes that made sense. Oh I can't imagine having triplets and being so sick. Your mom definitely has the helping disorder.


Marie,
"I feel guilty for needing it and for not "hosting" them, so I try to do MORE than I would have if I was home alone!"
Yes I have this too. It's like the cleaning lady syndrome... having to clean before they come and clean so they don't think you're lazy.

Christy said...

I have part of that disease. I CANNOT ask for help. That's why I found myself 2 days out of the hospital with a newborn, 20 month old, 6 year old (in school), husband in the hospital, ALONE and having a nervous breakdown.

But I do love to help and don't feel resentful of the person I am helping.

I'm glad your mom is coming.

Haley said...

I'm just impressed by how self aware you guys are! I'm glad your mom is coming down to help -- hope all goes well and you're speeded to your recovery. :)

Mrs Furious said...

Haley,
17 straight years of therapy will do that to you ;)


Christy,
I find it really depends on who I am helping. There are some situations where I don't feel any resentment... and others where I am just pissed off from the beginning. I definitely have some arbitrary worthiness gauge ;)

gooddog said...

So glad you asked and she's coming.
I really do hope you get better soon. It must be hard. Hang in there. you still have the weekend with Mr F! You can "practice" by letting him do it ALL!

Nutmeg said...

On christmas eve I had a little breakdown while driving home from my mother in law's house. I have (apparently) a fatiguing illness and a neuropathic pain syndrome the medicine for which (keppra, interestingly) has sapped every last bit of physical strength I have. So on christmas eve, after my husband asked me to drive (despite assuring me I would not need to if we made the long trip up to see his family), I snapped.

I drove and then I pretty much laid out that I'm JUST beginning to deal (after 8 months) with the fact that I am NOT capable of doing everything I used to be able to do, it is difficult for me to ask for help, I've reached my breaking point and half of the days of the week by the time he gets home I need to go upstairs and lay down because even sitting requires too much strength.

I had to be clear about the fact that I was going to TRY to ask for help when I need it, but I'm not going to be good at it, and the fact is I'm going to need help for the foreseeable future. 32 years of nearly complete self-reliance is hard to break. He has stepped up to the challenge for the last week, but we'll see what happens as his focus wanes.

I really, really hope you can find some peace in accepting help when it is offered and asking for it when you need it. I don't have any peace about it myself, yet.

I ALSO Really, really hope you can have some freedom from the agony soon. Good god, I can't quite imagine it.

julie said...

I never willingly ask my parents for help unless it is a life/death situation. It just turns out that I am "hosting" them at my house if they ever did come to "help". I feel for you, Mrs F. Good luck to you. I hope your mom is able to help and that you are able to accept it.

Mrs Furious said...

Nutmeg,
Oh that sounds a lot like me in my horrible Rheumatoid years. Fatigue is the worst thing to deal with. I actually said to Mr F that this isn't so bad because I have my same energy level... it's just pain.

And as for the self reliance and asking for help... I'm the same way. By the time I ask for help it is because I'm desperate.... there is no room for negotiation at that point... you either help me or one of us will die ;)


Julie,
I'm really going to try to just sit back... but it won't be easy.


Good News! Mr F couldn't take it anymore and called the DR to give me new pain meds. I haven't been taking the vicodin and the tylenol is worthless. So let's hope this one provides some relief!

Mrs Furious said...

Gooddog,
I'm not sure we can get enough practice in to allow us to shift our designated roles that much! AT least my mother is quick moving!! ;)

Gigs said...

Sometimes when I read this blog I feel like I'm actually talking to myself. I totally get the dynamics you are talking about. I hate to need help. And I definitely help grudgingly. I think about the lack of emotional understanding between myself and my parents - and my parents and their parents - and I fear it might be an endless cycle; though I also have tried to change it up with my kids. Also my husband is like Mr. F., no problem at all to serve me while I'm on the couch, when I would totally resent it if things were the other way around (ditto on the death rays!). Fortunately I think both of my kids are kinder, and more open to kindness, than I ever was. Sorry this is a bit "rambly shambly". I hope the visit with your mom makes things easier for you. It will at least be good to have someone to count on so you can rest yourself. Will be thinking of you...

Mrs Furious said...

Gigs,
Well I'm really glad that people could relate to this. After I wrote it I thought... not everyone is ready for this kind acknowledgment about their relationships. I also worried about outing my mom too much... she is coming to help... don't want to burn that bridge ;)
But at the same time I really believe this is a very common dynamic... whether people are open about it is a different story. I think some of it is embedded in the culture of both my mother and father's families where in needing help is a weakness.... unless it is hired help ;)

Mrs Furious said...

I also was just talking to Mr F about how our families are different in this regard. In his family needing to get outside help is more resisted (and frowned upon... if I had a cleaning lady that would make me seem lazy, etc). And in my families there really is no negative to outside help in fact it is preferred over troubling *real* people in your life. Not that any of these rules are spoken about.

Deb said...

I was JUST talking about this today when I was complaining about my husband's travel schedule and a neighbor's offer to help with my son "whenever".

LOL at the cleaning lady syndrome! Not only do I declutter before they come, but then I go and hide in the basement playroom while they're here, because I cannot face the fact that there are people cleaning my house FOR me. I could never be a celebrity with my own people. (But like your family, outside people are preferable to family -- maybe I need your therapist.)

Bravo for you for fighting the cycles. In the end, that's what our kids learn from the most -- our efforts.

lucinda said...

I don't mind being outed. I'm open about being resentful when people need me, when I need people, pretty much when people are involved at all :-). At least where family is concerned. What's up with that? It's something I learned and am trying to unlearn. I'm doing a lot better. And I'm laughing at myself already because I read about the apple slicing and my thought was, why are you slicing apples? Eat them whole for God's sake. I'm going to be so helpful, you'll never want me to leave.(but of course I will, a day before you decide you want me to)

Mr Furious said...

What's this? A parent with a sense of humor about oneself?

Weird.

Claire said...

My husbnd and I and our daughters had to move in with my parents two times - it is a real humbling experience to need that kind of help - to have to ask for help - but I have learned more from needing help - like how to give "real" help - how to recognize when others really need help - I know the easiest thing is to give help - but - admitting and accepting help - ouch - that really hurts - so long distance the only thing I can offer is prayer for you and your family - and I just have to say that I loved your Mom's reply! Accept the help - with grace!!! We all love you!

Mrs Furious said...

mom,
"but of course I will, a day before you decide you want me to"
LOL!


Claire,
Thanks for the well wishes. Yes, I'm really trying to use this as an extended practice session in receiving help.

Renee said...

I am so glad that your Mom is going to be able to come out and help..and it also sounds like your Mom is A LOT of fun and has a great sense of humor...she'll hopefully be good medicine for you...LOL about the when to leave comment.and as so many others, (and another testament to how great blogs and your blog in particular is) you hit the nail right on the head w/ the help thing....

I esp. realized my issues w/ asking/receiving help after my husband's accident-but part of it was also not knowing what I needed as far as help-everyone wanted to help but I didn't know what to ask for!!!

Jennifer said...

My mothers first instinct is to panic. OH NO! What will my dad ever do if she is not there and can't tend to his every whim. That is her first thought always ... how will this disrupt my husband. Sad, but true. She is from another generation.

I don't mind ever helping anyone .. for a few days. Then I'm all .. ok, seriously, this needs to be over. lol. I remember when my mom had her hysterectomy .. 2 weeks into her recovery and I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Even when my own child got his tonsils and adenoids out .. 5 days of crying and "owwwww" and I was ready to jump off a really high bridge onto a feild of rocks. Truth.

Take heart Mrs. F. :)

Heather said...

Like Gigs, I think I could have written this post myself. Especially the part about my mom = I asked her if she wanted to hold the baby the other day and she said No she was too tired. It was like she thought she was going to get stuck with her. Weird.

Anyway, I hope your mom is a great help, and mostly, that you LET her be a great help. I have had a really hard time with that in the past few months; I pick apart why a person's help wasn't exactly perfect, or I just refuse help in general. It's hard, and it's made what was a really hard time even harder. Damn me and my ways.

Hang in there.

P.O.M. said...

Good luck with moms.

God reading your blog really makes me realize out how much therapy I really need. I don't know what I'm afraid of.

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