And Another Thing

So I don’t like asking for help, but if I have to, I have to. You know, like laundry. I don’t love it but someone’s got to keep the socks clean around here. I forgot, in a moment of ranting about something else, that worse than asking for help is getting unsolicited help. Man, that really chaps my hide.

How dare people see me struggling or puzzling and kindly suggest I might enjoy, nay, appreciate, an extra hand or a friendly word of advice? I try to hide my contempt but I’ve never been a very good actress. I usually am able to bark out a thank you but I don’t mean it. Not if I didn’t ask for help. If I asked for it, that’s another thing altogether. My beloved and I have had this conversation so many times, it’s lost some its, um, luster.

“Please. I got it.” I mutter.

“Okay, I was just trying to be helpful.” He says, in his helpful voice. I can’t even be mad at his tone, because he really, truly is trying to be helpful. Which just makes it worse.

“Do I look like I need help?”

He takes a step back. “Well….kind of, yeah.” And then he scrambles backward to avoid the household item being hurled at his cranium. Ok. I don’t really throw things at him. Not usually. But I have been known, on occasion, to get a little snippy. This conversation usually ends with me asking for help, and reminding him that true help is him waiting for me to ask for it. It’s an ugly dance but it’s what we do.

Now that my running distances are getting longer and I’m sorta kinda thinking about maybe considering a full marathon in the future, I’m getting all kinds of unsolicited advice about how I need to focus my training. The first few times, fine, whatevs. I get it. Nice people being nice. But after the fourth guy suggested I think about adding intervals, well, let’s just say if I could throw things virtually, I would have.

And then I simmered down. From what I could parse, I had two options: Be an ungrateful hag and spit spite in their well-intentioned faces or consider their advice and decide whether to listen. It did irritate me at first that instead of gold stars I was getting “It’ll help your time,” and “It’ll make you leaner.” Women are great at hearing the non-existent sub-text (gross generalization, I know. Bear with me). So while they were saying that, I was hearing “You’re slow and fat.” I had to step aside from my pride, again, and see the advice givers for who they were: people with wisdom and experience. I could, in fact, take it as a compliment that they thought enough of my miles and times to push me further.

Why don’t I like help? I don’t know. Knee jerk feminist training? Independent joie de vivre? Stubborn pain in the ass? Sure. When I’m offered help, my stomach twists into a knotted mass; in mere moments I sift through anger (I know what I’m doing.) to self-doubt (No, I really don’t) to anger (I just told him I don’t want help and now I need help) to humility (Alright. Will you please help me?) to gratitude (Thanks). Walking a line made of vapors between pride and self-loathing. I’d like to skip past those internal moments and go straight to the thanks part. I’m working on it.

What do you have a hard time accepting from others? Do you know why?