Putting the CL on that ASS!

Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Blog

To Ask or not to Ask for Help; Is There Really a Question?

                                          " Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. 
                                         It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.                                                                         ~Anne Wilson Schaef

Well it’s official. 2012 is officially here.  Now I’m not sure if the predictions are correct and this will be the end of the world as we know it (whether it happens physically or spiritually), but I do know that with a new year comes the hope for new things, a renewed sense of motivation, and above all else, the resolutions. Oh yes . . . the resolutions.  Where we resolve to do the things we’ve never even tried to do before, or we vow to stop all of our bad habits, and become our bigger, better, brighter selves. I haven’t personally made a New Years resolution since I was a teenager. However, I love the way the Universe works.  It has a wonderful way of bringing the very things we need to work on to our attention. So while I didn’t exactly create a resolution, I did realize that there was something I need to work on.


Not sure how you spent your New Year’s. But I spent mine quietly and contemplatively.  I had a scheduled surgery that I can’t say I was really worried about, but I did have some concerns. I was told it was a “minimally invasive” surgery. However, my logic is anytime you’re being cut open and put under anesthesia, you are not being invaded minimally.  Thankfully, the procedure was successful and I am resting at home. But as I said, this experience made me realize that there was indeed something I need to work on.  This experience has brought a bad habit of mine to my attention; and that thing is that I need to do a better job of asking for help. 


I became aware that perhaps I might have a problem asking for help when I realized that I hadn’t specifically asked for help from anyone prior to my surgery.  I knew I would need some help recuperating, but I never asked anyone. If I relied on anyone for help, it would probably be my  best friend and god sis.  And to be honest, I actually didn’t want to rely on either.  I didn't want to rely on my bestie because she’s been dealing with her mom’s hospitalization for about a month. I didn’t want to feel like I was just another burden on her. I didn’t want to rely on my god sis because she’s young and on her winter break from school and I felt as if I was impeding her fun downtime process.  Then I just realized those were the excuses I was using so that I wouldn’t have to feel a certain way about asking for help because I hate that feeling. I hate the feeling I feel when I have to sit down and ask another human being for help.  I feel impotent and weak--as if I'm incapable.  And the reality is this time around, I really was incapable because all I could do after my surgery was lay down and sleep.  So I just realized that the ugly truth is that I hate asking for help because I hate the way it makes me feel.


Some of it is just who I am. I’m an introvert and an independent soul.  I suppose being an only child only enforced the independent streak.  I just naturally do things alone. Some of it has been ingrained in me since I was a youngster. My father constantly instilled in me that I need to have my own, stand on my own, be self sufficient, not rely on others.  And while I understand what he was trying to accomplish, and even appreciate his effort, I do wish the conditioning that has taken place had leveled off many moons ago.  I recognize now that no man is an island. And no matter how wonderful the island may be, it still needs more than a few inhabitants. 


But Je'Niece why do you find the feeling of asking for help so difficult?  My god sis asked me this when instead of asking her to bring me a bottle of water, I decided to waddle over to the water case myself and struggle to bend down to grab a bottle.  Clearly I must have looked ridiculous--seeing as how I’d just been cut on my abdomen, therefore unable to bend.  I was beyond struggling. I was in pain, yet instead of calling a flag on the play, I just kept trying to maneuver and re-maneuver myself--of course to no avail.   But did I give up? Never! I was caught, and not even red handed because my body was lame and unable to allow me to get away with the booty. After she had a deservingly hearty laugh at my expense, she asked,  “So you’d rather struggle than ask me for help?”  Wow . . . what a hummdinger of a question.  And sadly, the honest answer was yes.  As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s the truth. I would in most instances rather sink all on my own than have to ask another person for help and as I write these words, I recognize how trivial and silly that is. 


I’m still not really sure if I feel weak for having to ask for help, or if I just want to prove to myself that I’m a big girl who can do it all by myself. Either way, I need to get over myself and open my mouth. As the saying goes, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” There is no way that I can make it in this world all by myself.  I know that even in the moments that I have felt alone, I really wasn’t operating alone. I did this to myself after my dad's passing.  I was in pain, struggling to breathe, yet I didn't open my mouth and say a word.  I struggled for air until I almost gave up my ghost and I thought I'd learned my lesson then.  I guess I gained the knowledge, but I know enough to know that the knowledge alone is not enough. Now is the time for me to prove that I do indeed know this by operating in a higher capacity. As Oprah reminds us, Maya Angelou has wisely said, “When you know better, you do better.”  It’s time for me to let go of foolish pride and ego and remember that weakness doesn’t lie in asking for help, it lies in the refusal.  If I plan to get anywhere in this life I live, I had better start opening my mouth and wisely and boldly asking for help.



Family and Relatives are Not the Same!

When I was younger, my father would find random moments to teach and philosophize with me about life, or as he called it, to spit venom. A simple request to go to the store could be met with "Let me tell you this", as he would then proceed to give me whatever was the lesson of the day. He would even tell me, "You may not understand what I'm saying to you right now. But one day you'll look back on things and you'll see." Well of course, tiring of him always being right, I vowed that I would never understand. And I swore to uphold that vow until my dying day. But today, I am happy to admit that I was so wrong.  My father was right. I do understand. I understand a lot of what he said to me and what he tried to instill in me.  One of the most memorable is one I've just recently learned. And one I thought made him so cold, but I now know better. And that is that family and relatives are not the same thing!

My father's version of this lesson went something like this: "Don't get caught up in the titles of folks.  Just cause somebody is your family doesn't mean they have your back.  Family will do you worse than a stranger on the street." Yikes! Sounds harsh doesn't it? I certainly thought so. I couldn't fathom someone in my family not being happy for me, not supporting me, or being there for me. Until one day, I found myself having to face this very truth. There are more than a few family members who I learned did not want the best for me. They are not happy for me when things go well for me, and they actually seem happy if things don't work out in my favor. The experience left me shell shocked because it went against everything that I thought I knew. I felt robbed. I felt cheated. I had been had, hoodwinked, bamboozled, and well you know the rest.  I went into victim mode: "How could they?" And I really did wonder how could they.  I certainly hadn't done anything to them.  I lamented over my pain and let my heart bleed. I picked at the scabs on my bleeding heart just so that it would bleed again.  I did this for a while until one day, I found myself surrounded by a group of wonderful people who were encouraging, supporting, and nurturing. They praised me where I was strong and offered loving reproof where I was weak. A couple of them have been around for many years and others were new additions to my life, but they shared the same thing: they all genuinely love me. I looked around and I I heard my father's voice telling me "I told you!" I believe Oprah would call it my "Aha moment". I got the lesson: Family and relatives are not the same thing!! Oh!! So I've had it wrong all this time? So it takes more than a shared genetic link to make someone your family member? Having the same last name does not a family make?  Being born into a group does not necessarily make that group a family?  If not, then what does make someone your family? Well, as I mentioned of my group, a family is a group of people who come together in the name of love. And when I say love, I don't mean merely in words. I mean in action. It is very easy to tell someone you love them, but if you are not acting in love, those words are in vain.  Such is the case with my relatives. Family is the group of people who seek to understand you, love you, offer you support and encouragement, help when they see you need it and loving reproof to help you become better. 

Now sometimes, some of your relatives are also your family members.  But there are those relatives who just are not your family. And the thing is, that's ok. I know this is the time of year when we focus on love and family and some of us feel bad because we don't like being around relatives, or maybe we don't have too many family members to gather around. But if you have a group of people who you know love you and have your back, you can rest assured that you have a family. And sometimes those people won't have your last name or genetic link. And again, that's ok. Whether your group is as large as the multitude that Jesus fed, or as small as a party of 2, you have a family.  Most times, your family won't look the way you imagined.  (I certainly know mine doesn't.)  And while they may not be relatives, a family is much better than a group of relatives any day.


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