I’ve just experienced the most dependent month of my adult life.
Having had full hip replacement, returning home bruised, swollen and sore, I needed daily — even multiple times a day — help to do the simplest of things: eat, dress, pull socks, stocking and shoes on and off, get in and out of bed, bathe.
I left my parents’ home at 19 and lived much of my life after that alone. I’d been sick as hell alone in my apartment or traveling far away where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language, in places like Venice or Istanbul. My family has never been close emotionally or physically — it was made very clear to me what, pretty much whatever happened to me, physically, financially, emotionally, it was up to me to figure out, and cope with it.
I hated being weak, needy and vulnerable. Surprise!
I finally drove this week — and showered (alone!) and tied my sneakers (unaided!) — for the first time in a month. I went by train into Manhattan, our nearest city, and saw a movie with a friend and did some clothes shopping. It was all deliciously new and deeply pleasant.
But I didn’t, as everyone expected, sigh with relief at finally regaining my cherished independence.
I loved having Jose home, to chat with and bring me breakfast in bed. Friends drove an hour to visit, bringing home-cooked meals and fresh cheer. Two close friends were kind enough to chauffeur me to physical therapy a few times, otherwise a $20 cab ride each way.
I’d never been so fussed over or cared for, and it was lovely. Our front door is covered in get-well cards. We ate dinners for three weeks cooked and delivered by members of our church.
As I’ve been walking our apartment property in spring sunshine, I’ve run into a neighbor, a single woman my age who is fighting cancer for the third time. She’s reluctant to ask for help, but she needs it from time to time.
We all do.
We are, even in our vigorous 20s or 30s, as likely to be felled by a vicious flu or a broken arm or a sprained ankle.
We need help, whether writing a better resume or finding the perfect wedding dress or learning how to refinish furniture or bathe a baby. But, for some reason, we’re supposed to shoo away a helping hand.
No, I’m, fine, really, we insist. Even when we’re really not at all fine and would kill for a helping hand or two.
Maybe we’re afraid no one will step up and be reliable and do the hard work, even for a while. As someone who took decades here in New York to make lasting friendships, this offered a huge and powerful lesson for me. We’re loved!
Do you find it difficult to ask others for help?
When you ask, do you receive it?