I can't figure out why it's so hard to accept freely offered help. And why do I have lingering feelings of guilt and inadequacy for having outsourced three major household chores?
This line of self-examination is the culmination of a series of events and decisions from the last few months. In some ways it all started when I hired Upper Crust Maids to clean my house every other Friday. That was a year ago, and coming home those Fridays after Marta and her helper have been here is *awesome!* But while I pay the company a fairly decent sum for unskilled labor (I have no idea what they get paid), I still try to make sure the house is not a disaster, the dishes are not piled up in the sink from the last four days (like they are now), dirty clothes are actually *in* the laundry basket (instead of tossed towards the general end of the room where the laundry basket sits), and all the junk mail is off various horizontal surfaces and in the recycling bin.
And then there was the debacle with getting my motorcycle license in time for a road trip to Florida for vacation. Now, I fully admit I approached this whole thing with a fundamental flaw to my overall plan: yes, I tried to subvert the system...lie, as it were, because I thought the rules were stupid (side note: this experience did reinforce to me the problems as a leader with picking and choosing which rules to follow -- but that's a topic for another post). I went out to Hawaii in February to take the state's motorcycle safety test (again), so I wouldn't have to play by Maryland's stupid rules. Had a great trip, but forgot to take all the required documentation to prove that I am a US citizen and Hawaii resident. Foiled. So I came back and got my Maryland's learner permit. Now, the only restrictions on a Hawaii's learner's permit are that you can't carry a passenger or ride after dark, which is how I was able to ride across country without a full license. Maryland, however, requires that any rider riding with a learner's permit must ride with a fully licensed rider at all times. You mean...sputter, sputter, huff, huff, that I made it safely across 4,500 miles through this great nation, but now I have to have a *babysitter!?!* Whatevs...
That attitude served all well and good until I went to try taking my road test for the full license. First question they asked was, where is your licensed rider? I fibbed and said, he dropped me off and then left to go do other stuff. I was summarily and unabashedly shot down, told I was disqualified from taking the road test without my licensed rider present. Oh, and I had to have an appointment. Oh. My. Goodness. Absurd.
But reality. I left, frustrated and uncertain how to proceed. I didn't want to make an appointment without having a babysitter lined up, but how could I line up a sitter without being able to tell him/her when I'd need them? Thankfully, I have the *best* officemate in the world, and as I explained my self-imposed quandary to MC Hooligan, he came up with a plan to solve the whole mess. He suggested I make the appointment for the next available slot that didn't conflict with any scheduled meetings at work; he would ride his bike to work that day, and we'd leave from the office to head to the DMV. It worked perfectly...just like clockwork. Though both of us were completely astounded by the depth of requirement for having the licensed rider there...I could either push my bike (not even walk, straddling it) the 50 yards from where it was parked to the start of the test line, or MC could ride it there (visualize 6' 4" MC riding my Nightster..."monkey riding a football" was the phrase he used to describe it). Even after the test, he had to *walk alongside* me from the end of the test area back to a parking space so I could park the bike before going inside to get the actual license. We still shake our heads about it when the subject comes us. But mad, huge, crazy thanks to MC for ...hell, just being himself!
Next was a little situation after a morning workout. I usually ride my bicycle to work three days a week. I try to get to the morning "Phit" class at least once a week, preferably two...which means at least one day of a two-a-day, where I'm riding my bike and going to class on the same day. Nothing too unusual about it. But this one day, we did 100s...100 push-ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats, burpees, body rows, and I think there may have been one more, but I can't remember. I did ok through the workout. Had to push it kind of hard on the last set of 20 each...probably held my breath more than I should have. I felt a little wobbly on the way out of the gym, but who doesn't after that kind of exertion? Once I was in the shower, though, things started going downhill...nauseous, shaky, sight graying out on the edges of my vision. I managed to finish, but had to go straight to the locker room bench and sit down as soon as I got out. Thankfully there were a couple of other girls in the locker room with me, and I guess I looked horrible enough they knew I was in trouble. One of them asked I wanted her to go get some help. If she hadn't asked that question, I don't think I would have volunteered that I needed help. But because she offered, it was so much easier to say, yes, please. She went running off to medical. Laying down was easier than sitting down, which was easier than standing up. So there I was, laid out on the locker room bench.
The cavalry arrived in the form of a very capable and efficient HS2, armed with a bp cuff and a bottle of oxygen. The other girl was so sweet about getting all my gym gear stowed away in my locker, and handing me clothes so I could make my way down the hall to medical with some shred of dignity. Side note: one of my most *mortifying* moments in Headquarters (so far) -- being wheeled down main pass in a wheel chair because they weren't sure I could walk that far without passing out. I made it safe and sound to medical, where Doc checked me out.
Turns out my blood pressure was super low. Not sure why...they said dehydration, but I usually drink at least 4 20 ounce bottles of water a day, so I have my doubts about that (I was really nervous about it until I talked to my sister who said she started experiencing the same thing at about my age (gotta love getting older). I'm keeping an eye on it, trying to make sure I breathe even in the middle of sit ups and push ups. I ran a really hilly 10k this morning, and felt fine...well, felt great actually.).
Some time while all this other drama was going on, I decided I didn't want to have to find the time on the weekends or in the evenings after work to mow the lawn, a chore I really don't like. I never do a very good job, and that damn string on the weed eater makes me crazy as I try to cut along the chain link fence. There's a guy that a couple of the families in the neighborhood use, and at $30 every 10 days to two weeks...I call it a dag-gone good bargain.
And it took me an entire weekend, like two days of 6 hours a day, sitting out in my front yard weeding the blueberry beds along the front walk, to admit that I needed help with my garden too. An entire *weekend,* and I hadn't even touched the red raspberries, the black raspberries, the grapes or the three raised beds...those critical spring planting hours were dribbling away, lost through my fingers.
Love and Carrots to the rescue! Meredith came out for a garden evaluation, and told me it would be one of the easiest garden set-ups they had, especially since the automatic irrigation was already installed. I signed up for a visit every two weeks, and the garden looks fantastic! One of my particularly pragmatic relatives pointed out that by the end of it, my tomatoes would probably cost $10 each, but heck, I've got a brown thumb, and I still want to call myself a gardener! Oh, vanity! Meredith did jokingly call me "borgie" when I started naming off all the projects I would probably have to hire help for around the house. I took it with the best grace I could...I'm a yuppie. I know it. (hang head)
In the middle of all these manifestations of neediness, the Rocket Scientist and I had a conversation about asking for help (I wish I had written this post when I meant to, two months ago, so that I could have quoted the conversation exactly...Google Hangouts' history doesn't go back that far). The basics of it were that I was frustrated with feeling like I had to ask for help for so much stuff, and it made me feel weak and needy. His response was that asking for help was not about being weak, it was just about not being able to do something by yourself. And if that's how I thought about asking for help, I must think he's the weakest person around (AS IF!!), because he had asked for help with so much stuff lately too (this was right around the time I went down to AL to help him with a yard sale -- lots of junk *gone* traded for $350 cash-- *SCORE!!*). I said I *offered* to help him out with the yard sale. And that offering help is some people's way of showing love and support, not judgement on weakness.
Now, I'm just not sure why that's how I look at *offering* help, but I look at *asking* for help as admitting weakness...seems like a particularly unfair and schizophrenic bifurcation of the help coin. Writing it all out like this has definitely helped me see the flaw in my perceptions. I think I'll always be a little uncomfortable about asking for help, which is probably for the best. It helps me find that right balance between being independent and capable, and being a contributing part of a community, able to both give and receive.