Asking for help has been a prominent fear of mine since I was in grade 1, when I couldn’t understand the concepts of basic mathematics. I just remember being given the work sheets with very simple equations, feeling overwhelmed looking at the list of questions thinking: I have no idea.
I would look at the paper for a while pretending I was thinking about the work and try cover most of the work sheet with my arms, as the teacher walked around the classroom. Luckily friendship and group work were encouraged at times so I could just “work with” my smarter friend sitting next to me and get the answers off them for the lesson, crisis averted. Or if we had to work in silence I became very good at copying the answers off the kids sitting near me. And if none of the above helped me in that lesson, I would then eventually do what teachers encouraged at the end of their very long confusing rants, which was to ask for help if we needed it.
But as I progressed through primary school, I learnt that asking for help usually made me way more confused than I was in the beginning. I would raise my hand for the teacher to come over and tell them, “I need some help.”
The teacher would say, “No worries, with what part?”
“Um, all of it.”
It was rare for me as a kid to feel better after asking for help.
Usually after a teacher “helped” me, I would do my best to pretend that I knew what I was doing for the sake of the teacher’s pride. I didn’t want to let them down by still not understanding. I got very good at nodding my head, saying “Oh okay, yep. Got it.”
Giving them a smile that I intended to say, You’re doing a great job. I’m just stupid.
Welcome to the mind of 6 year old Hayley.
Not a mentally or emotionally healthy one at that, because I was trying to cope in the classroom with an undiagnosed generalised anxiety disorder. Which is like playing the game The Floor is Lava, except everything in the classroom is lava.
I was in a constant state of fight or flight response every day I went to primary school. The overwhelming amount of kids in my class, the confusing teacher doing their best just so they could earn a living, the messy craft activities, the work I didn’t understand, the toxic friendships, the occasional “friendly” visit from the principal who made me wish I didn’t exist at all, and the getting to know each other games at the start of every year.
Having this hand injury has put me in a very familiar vulnerable position of needing lots of help, very much like my primary school days, but instead now it’s to do with my general state of living. Because believe it or not, a left hand is necessary for the kind of life I lead. The showering, making meals, getting dressed, brushing teeth, doing my hair, putting make-up on, and need for transportation, kind of life I lead. Whodathunkit.
Most of the time there is a significant amount of guilt felt with every request I make, because I don’t want to be a burden to the people I love. But this injury is forcing me to sit in the discomfort of it all, and accept that it is totally normal to need so much assistance at this moment in time. I’m incredibly blessed to have a mum and a brother so generous with their time and effort, in helping me out around the house with the more tedious yet necessary day to day tasks. And they continue to do it all without any fuss because they love me.
I’m constantly saying, “Sorry, but could you please help me…” or “Hey, could you lift…” Usually they even know what I’m about to request while I’m mid-sentence, so they start helping me complete the task before I even finish asking. That’s how good they are.
They don’t pull a face when they see me waddling their way, and they don’t groan in response to my many requests I give them every day. They smile, nod and make sure I’m comfortable with the need they do their best to meet. There’s no talk of owing them big time after full recovery, or them ordering me to put them on a pedestal because of it.
They’re family, they love me, that’s why they do it.
With God I even forget that I can pray for healing and a comfortable recovery. I forget even in my faith, that my God is there for comfort and nurturing during days when it’s most difficult. Especially when I’m trying to cope with the painful ache running down my arm to my wrist to my hand to my pinky. I forget that not only can I pray for my students at work, but I could also do myself a favour and pray for the pain I’m experiencing right before I start work. Just simply acknowledging my God, reminds me that my fragile life and state of mind is in His hands, and that as long as I have Him, I know for myself it brings me a more peaceful state of mind. That despite this pain, He may be teaching me a greater lesson He only knows I am in need of, for the current state of my well-being.
Asking for help is something I want to feel more comfortable with by the end of this injury period, no matter how awkward or embarrassed I may feel at times. Because I’m realising it’s human to need help at one point or another, and it’s not a shameful act at all. I mean it’s strange, when my students need help, a friend needs help or a family member needs help, I don’t find it annoying or intrusive of my day at all.
99% of the time I help them out because I love them. It’s funny, when you do genuinely care for another human in your social network, our love for them does direct our logic and reasoning processes in helping us do the best for them with anything they may be in need of.
I just need to remember it can work both ways.
image: i’d like to thank Oscar for listening to me when i said “look at the camera with those cute eyes ya got.”