Friday, March 11, 2011

Asking For Help

I am humbled and saddened by the news going on in Japan. What brought tears to my eyes today was the msnbc headline appearing over the images of the earthquake's destruction that Japan had asked for help from America and then Obama's reply that America would do what we can. It made me think about this macro issue in micro terms. Here is one great country asking for help and another offering its assistance.

If I could turn back the clock a few years, I would have asked for more help - more help in caring for the kids, seeking advice, requesting support and trying to get some personal "me" time. But I didn't. I was raised in a family where we were expected and had to rely on ourselves - no one ever requested help or gave it. We were considered weak and inept if we couldn't do it alone.

Of course, I see how silly that belief system is now. And all my trying to do it by myself has resulted in nothing but creating a somewhat bitter, overtired, stressed only parent. I'm making an attempt to call people when I need to talk things over and to verbalize my needs more. But it is not a process that happens overnight. Old habits, especially the ones learned in childhood are hard to break.

Anyway, if two great countries can model this behavior, we as individuals should be able to do so too. It is okay to admit we can't do it on our own and I hope more people out there are willing to lend a hand when someone asks for help after disaster strikes their life. In a perfect world no one would have to ask and help would just come because it is needed. But I've learned that is not how it works. Sometimes if you don't take the steps of asking, help won't be delivered.

A disaster like this shakes us all up. Makes us realize the fragility of our lives. My prayers go out to the people of two great nations, one in need and one giving. How quickly can the giver turn out to be the one in need in the future.


  1. Good point taken.

    So many people kept telling me to just ask for help if I needed it. I kept getting stuck on the "just" part, as if it was just that easy.

    I too rarely asked for help, and now that I am living in a place where I really don't know anybody well, I don't really consider the option anyway.

    Funny though, is that I am now 2 hours away from my parents, and do make the drive often to help them out. All of my brothers are aware of this, and often make a comment that they appreciate that I make such an effort, even though it is a bit of a drive. Yet, when I mention that they have yet to visit me in my new home, I get no real response. I believe they think the "helping" time is over. They don't realize that we still need help in the social interaction area. I keep telling them that I am still grieving, and that I spend much of my time alone.

    Hello! Hello!

    Still no response.

  2. Dan - Right there with you. When my poor folks were so ill, I was the main sibling out of four helping out. Yet looking back, I was barely making it as an only parent, just a year or two out of widowhood and so depleted myself, it was ridiculous. I have come to believe that people really have a hard (maybe impossible time) understanding the lives of others. Maybe we humans are inherently selfish? Another topic, another post. Glad to hear from you and kind of amazed at how your life has unfolded in the past year - lots of good stuff with your move, job and new home.

  3. Gotta agree,,,I too was raised (Chicago SUburbs) to go it alone. Parents didn't offer much help and when I asked, they always said "I don't know what to tell you" or "I don't know what you expect me to do." Now this may have been peculiar to their rather selfish personalities, but I also feel it's a part of that rugged individualism nonsense we as Americans are raised with. I had to go to therapy for many years to learn how to ask for help. Even now, in my late 60s, I still struggle with "asking."

  4. I'm like you. I hate to ask for help, even from my children. But I am learning. I'm maybe at the kindergarten level.

  5. I've been told that asking for help can be a gift for other people who would love to help if they could. I'm aware, however, of the need to reciprocate, so I only ask for favors when at wit's end. As for my giving - I offer my ear when I can, but I haven't felt capable of many grander gestures (other than donations) since being widowed.

    So many people are at wit's end these days. The need in Japan and other locations is staggering. Any effort to help counts, doesn't it?

    As for me, isolation has comforted me at times, but perhaps it has made me weaker. I hear there is strength in numbers, and perhaps this provides a capability to give.

    Hope to see a new post, to know how you are doing.