I’m not great at asking for help.
It’s a place I hate to find myself. Needing help and needing to ask for it, and feeling so much shame and embarrassment about it that I just don’t, and when i finally do, finding myself feeling like I’m a shitty excuse for a human being for not being able to do it on my own.
I’m in that place right now.
“I’ll do it myself” was one of my first full sentences as a child, and has remained a major ‘catchphrase’ if you will, in my vocabulary.
I CAN do most things myself.
And I will stubbornly try to do EVERYTHING by myself, if for no other reason than I’m thoroughly bull-headed…..
If I’m being really honest, it’s not *just* because I’m thoroughly bull-headed.
When I was growing up, asking for help meant you were weak. Inferior. Not good enough.
“We don’t accept charity.We’re better than that. ” [even though there wasn’t always enough money]
“Don’t you take that. You don’t need handouts.” [But…she said it was a present…]
“If you can’t grow up and handle this on your own, I’m going to ground you AND send you to a shrink!” [secretly, I sort of wished he would – send me to a shrink, not ground me…]
And as an adult –
“Out in the field, you’re going to be totally on your own. You have to be able to run that corps by yourself. You won’t always have people you can just call on to help you!” [drilled into us over and over by the teachers at seminary]
“Ooooh….she was in charge, and now she’s an assistant…..bet she couldn’t hack it by herself. You don’t want to end up like her, Christin.” [as another officer gossiped about why another woman had been moved]
It was never said outright, but the implication always there, that if you wanted to be taken seriously, if you wanted to be acceptable, you had to do everything on your own, and if you couldn’t, you didn’t measure up. You were less of a person.
That implication breeds a culture of fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of admitting when you’ve messed up.
Fear of being the weak link.
Unfortunately for me, that culture of fear took hold and developed into horrible anxiety.
I fear everything.
Worry about everything.
Needed medication and therapy at one point to try to mitigate the crippling insomnia, the panic, the constant need to simultaneously be invisible and stand out.
Anxiety has been the single most crippling factor in my life.
And at the core of the anxiety is the constant thought that, fundamentally, I’m not enough…not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, straight enough, didn’t love jesus enough, not self-sufficient enough, can’t do enough…..the list goes on and on.
There’s just something so fundamentally wrong with me that I can’t do it on my own. .
I had my first panic attack in 5 years this afternoon.
It’s been five freaking years. And yet, there I was, pulled over in the parking lot of a random church on the Newville Road, with my heart rate pounding at over 180, struggling to breathe, willing myself to not pass out, throwing up in the ditch.
It took me an hour to regain composure enough to drive myself home.
Why didn’t I call someone?
Because that’s what I was panicking about.
The fact that I thought no one would be able to help me. Would want to help me.
That I was completely alone.
I know that I’m not. This is not me fishing for comments or affirmations. This is simply me sharing where I was on the side of that road, and where I am right now.
I’m still weepy.
Trying desperately to re-center.
Using every technique I’ve learned over the years to get through this.
I hate asking for help.
I hate being in a position where I have no choice but to ask for help.
I hate knowing in my gut that no one will be able to help.
I hate feeling like there’s something wrong with me.
I think I’ll go clean something.