One of the first things I learned after my accident (see previous post) was that I needed help for almost everything. Help to get out of bed, to walk, to sit in a chair, to make meals and the first few weeks home my Mom had to stay in the bathroom when I showered in case I needed help.
While still in the hospital, when I was moved out of ICU and to my own room, I remember vividly the first morning breakfast was delivered to me. It was French toast, my favorite, but I only had one arm. My left shoulder, broken in five places, was immobile and if I did move my arm it was painful especially when my pain meds began to wear off. I was doing everything one handed and couldn’t cut the French toast – no matter how hard I tried.
At that moment my room was unusually quiet, even the sounds of the heart monitor, chest tubes, TV and nurses talking in hallway faded away for me. It was a surreal and hard to describe but I remember complete silence as tears slowly slid down my face. I couldn’t even cut through French toast, I thought to myself, and that is when I realized the severity of my accident and the long road in front of me. As much as I hated to admit it, I needed help. I took a deep breath, made a vow to ask my Mom or Dad to come earlier the next day to help me and then I just used my fork and picked up the whole piece of bread and ate it bit by bit.
I did ask my parents to come and help. When I returned home my Mom stayed with me for several months and I had friends come and stay with me or take me places and help me run errands. It’s easy to see after an accident of that magnitude that help is needed. Once I was healed, I was hell-bent on proving I could do anything and everything all by myself. And boy did I ever which became a detriment to me and a habit that would take me years to break. One of my values is to be independent and strong and because I value independence it is very hard for me to ask for help.
It wasn’t until my 40s that I realized the most independent and strong thing I can do is ask for help. It took me 13 years after my accident for the lesson I learned that morning trying to eat French toast to finally stick. I didn’t think I was weak or unable when I asked for help back then. I asked for help because I knew it was best for me and the only way I would be healed.
That to me is the definition of asking for help. Asking for help makes you:
- Healthy and strong
- Healed and whole
- Follow your path
- Understand what is best for you
- Let others in
While it’s not always easy; nor does it come naturally and I have to remind myself of this lesson regularly, today, I ask for help. Anything from hanging out with people when I’ve spent too much time alone; to having my Dad come and help me fix things around the house; to asking my Mom for advice and to make me my favorite pre-race meal; to help me solve a problem; to listen to me practice a presentation or conversation and for a select few friends to pick me up after I’ve fallen.
I finally realized asking for help doesn’t make me weak. I know I’m stronger and more independent because I ask for help. I am strong. I am independent. I am me. And that’s pretty awesome.
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