Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reaching Out

All my life, I've always been the caregiver. Anytime someone needed help, I was there. Friends reached out to me because they knew I would listen, empathize, and never judge. And they knew I'd give them straight but compassionate advice with whatever situation was facing them at the time. I treasure the opportunities I've had to do this. It's fulfilling and satisfying to know that I've assisted others in their times of need.

But when the tables were turned last year, and I needed some support to get me through it, I never asked for it.

I have wonderful friends, many of whom have been through divorces, moving, job changes and a host of other issues. They would have been perfectly willing to take my hand and let me cry. They would have been there for me in a snap, to talk to me, to guide me, and to be my sounding board. I needed that at the time. So why didn't I reach out ?

Truth be told, I didn't want to bother them. I didn't want to burden others with my problems. I felt anger, frustration and hurt in my situation; and yet I never expressed it. I bottled it inside, and buried my head in my own emotions. I thought only about what others might feel, and not about myself.

Yes, I didn't burden anyone with my problems. But I suffered much more than I needed to because of it.

Why couldn't I just ask for help when I needed it ? Part of it, I think, is that I've always want to appear the strong one. I don't want to seem weak around people that I myself have supported. Furthermore, I had my own guilt and embarrassment from my decision, while knowing undoubtedly that it was the right one, still resulted in angst when a few important people in my life reacted in a judgmental and condescending way.

Maybe I was afraid of being vulnerable. Maybe I was trying to protect myself from the negativity and criticism. Maybe I tried too hard, and consequently, shut out those who would have helped me.

Things have changed now. The dust has settled. Those who have criticized me in the past have finally learned that my choices were not so bad after all. Of course, I shouldn't need to have others' approval for decisions that apply to my own life and happiness. But it helps to have unwavering, non-judgmental support when it is needed.

Just today, I experienced an epiphany. I needed some solace last night, and initially didn't ask for it. I was left sad, scared and anxious, and unable to sleep. But when I picked up the phone this morning, and called Danny on his way to work, the outpouring of compassion, understanding and reassurance was what set me straight.

I am not invincible. I'm faillible and sensitive. And sometimes I need a boost from others to help me along the way.

I won't deny myself that ever again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I can completely identify with this. I too am usually the strong one and have struggled a lot with this issue; especially as of late because I have been in a position to really need help, but have rather sat suffering because I didn't want to burden anyone with my problems. Wow. I really did think I was the only one that felt like this. Thanks for blogging.

September 14, 2006 at 2:50:00 PM PDT  

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