Getting Help

No one does it alone. No one.

I am terrible at getting help. So bad. I would much rather be the help than the helped. Having a husband with Parkinson’s Disease, I find his ability to help is diminishing. Of course he still pitches in and cooks dinner, but the quality of his work and the time it takes to get things done is very frustrating. For me. I need help.

On the flight home from Florida, I began to compose a letter to some church friends asking for their help with my darlings while I am going to be away for a few days for a worktrip to New Mexico. But then the plane hit turbulence and I put my laptop away. I have not opened that file. A part of me felt ashamed that I needed help.

In a city and a country of rugged individualists, I felt stupid and weak for asking for parenting and family support.

However, a few recent events in my life and in the world have reminded me that human beings need one another. We are social animals who like to live and work in community. It takes a village. We all need help – coping with an ill spouse, raising children, writing a book, organizing a demonstration or running a marathon. Here are some examples:

1. Occupy Wall Street — if you demonstrate alone, you look crazy. If you demonstrate with thousands of other people, you look like you have a cause.

2. NaNoWriMo — even the loneliness of novel writing can be ameliorated by thousands of on-line and real life friends cheering one another on. Creating small daily goals adds up to big accomplishments.

3. My Daughter’s Soccer Team — it’s much more fun to celebrate a win in a group than to win alone.

This weekend I saw this performance art piece at the foot of the High Line. The women were cutting each other's hair.

4. Haircuts — they just look better when someone else does them. In the same way, you can’t set your own broken arm.

5. My Family’s Well Being — I’ve met with a former colleague who started her own eldercare business and is helping us with Chris’s caretaking and I’ve also met with a lawyer to learn about protecting our family assets. These were huge and difficult calls to make and conversations to have. There’s more work to be done, but it’s a start.

Someday I may get back to writing that letter to my church friends to see if anyone wants to watch Charlotte’s soccer game or share a meal or prod the children to homework while I’m away. But I hesitate to finish and send the letter.

What if no one can help? Then I will end up exactly where I am. And it’s not such a bad place to be.

How May I Help You?

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I file this one under “Helpful New Yorkers.”

At the Yankee game the other night, I spotted this young woman with the sign. She was just standing there, a bow in her hair, hoping to help. I wished I needed help, but I didn’t need it then. It was pretty clear to me where the beer line was and that’s where I was headed. Nothing more needed.

Lately I have felt that I need a lot of help, but the kind of help I need is complicated. I need help getting motivated to work out. I need help with the kids’ homework. I need help with my husband’s care. I need help meeting work deadlines. I need help with my dwindling, mixed-up stock portfolio. I need help getting out of bed on cool mornings. I need help getting published.

I don’t know if this Yankee employee can help me with these things. It looks like she can help with directions. Heck, I can do that.

Fella, the beer line is this way! You’re right behind me.