This seems to be the new theme I’m being lead toward. You know when you’ve spent most of your life doing things yourself, asking for help is really very hard. My guides are basically smacking me upside the head with “GIRL, you better get a move on and ask for help.”
If I think back to the earlier stages of my life to when I was a little girl of about 7 years old, I can identify where this independent streak started. I have some very clear, scattered memories from earlier on my in life, however, the memories from age 7 going forward have the most impact.
I distinctly remember being in 2nd grade getting myself ready for school. Alone. My mother and father were divorced leaving my mother single with 3 children to raise alone: Rinaldo age 14, Constantine age 12 and me age 7. My father lived on the other side of town and worked either 2nd or 3rd shift so we never saw him for visitation. Mother had to work to support us, put a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Yes, she got child support, but it didn’t cover everything and her salary was not as much as she would have liked. If memory serves me correctly, she was a secretary for the maintenance department in a local hospital. In 1976 the minimum wage was just that… minimum.
Rinaldo was in 9th grade and Constantine was in 7th grade when I was in the 2nd grade. It was Constantine’s first year in the junior high and Rinaldo’s first year at the high school. They had different start times than I did for school. Constantine used to walk me to and from school every day making sure I was safe when we were in the same school. He wouldn’t hold my hand because that wasn’t cool, but he walked next to me or put me on the handlebars of his bike and let me ride so I didn’t have to walk. Constantine was truly my protector in my early years.
I remember being scared to be alone in the morning and my mom would tell me “You’re a big girl, Maria. You can do this and you don’t need help.” I would get up, make myself breakfast (two bowls of cereal because no one was there to tell me no), pack my lunch (an extra Twinkie if I found it. Who would know?), get dressed and walk to school. My mom could have made my lunch and left it out for me, but I honestly don’t remember that part. I remember being happy I could eat what I wanted without hearing about how fat I was (that’s a whole different post).
My mom did what she had to do, I understand this. I also know the words she spoke to me repeatedly “You’re a big girl, Maria. You can do this and you don’t need help.” These have played like a stuck record in my head for years (A record is this little black thing we used to listen to on a record player and if the needle got stuck the song would skip. It’s kind of like a song on repeat on your MP3 player). She also told me women have a hard time making it in the workplace and if I wanted to make something of myself, I’d have to prove I could do it without the help of a man. “Men only respect a woman who isn’t helpless.” Again, I understand she meant well and that last piece of advice has served me well in the business industry. I am not angry with her for teaching me these things. It just left me believing I could not ask for help. For anything.
This advice hasn’t worked out so well in my personal life. I’ve been married 4 times. I am not ashamed of this, although I am tremendously sorry for the pain I caused my previous husbands. (BTW, If any of you are reading this, I truly am sorry. You had no idea what you were getting into, but if you keep reading, you’ll understand it now. And there are a few select ex-boyfriends I send that apology out to as well. Contacting you directly would likely drudge up too much shit, but hey if you’re reading, I’m taking the opportunity.) Why have I been married 4 times you ask? GREAT QUESTION. Here’s the answer, I was emotionally hosed and had an attitude of “I don’t need you, I can do this without you.” How does one learn to form a good foundation of a relationship with a spouse if you don’t allow them to help? If you yourself have no idea how to communicate or how to actually love your partner in a healthy way, how do you form healthy attachments? You don’t.
Today, at the age of 48 I am finally learning to ask for help. My husband Tyler has been my rock through this entire learning process. He does more for me than I feel I deserve sometimes. However, when I start to feel that way, I will ask him. “Why do you do so much for me now?” His answer is plain and simple. “You allow me to.” No hesitation in the answer. The implied explanation is “If you had allowed me to do this for you years ago, I would have. However you were stubborn and insisted on doing it yourself.” He loves being able to help me and truly gets pleasure from helping others. By my not allowing him to help me which is the very basis of his nature, I stopped him from being himself and it affected him tremendously. I didn’t even realize it.
If you’re anything like me, please start to ask for help. The universe loves us enough to put the right people in our path when we need it. Reach out. Ask. If I can do it, so can you.
(I am searching for a catchy phrase as a parting before my name…I will find one eventually, but until then…)