The Importance of Accepting Help
Seven days ago, my husband tested positive for COVID-19, and our lives got turned upside down. The doctor said that our whole family probably has it but suggested that my husband isolate from us for ten days just to be on the safe side. We were told that the rest of the family would need to quarantine for 14 days so that we did not spread the virus. We have a three-year-old boy and a 9-month-old baby, and let’s just say this past week has been a struggle.
Thankfully my husband has only been having a mild case, and I have only had symptoms on and off. Despite all of this, I will say that it has been difficult for me to keep up with all of my responsibilities while also taking care of everyone in my house. I haven’t been sleeping well, and neither have my children. My toddler doesn’t understand why he can’t see his dad when he is in the other room and, without trying to scare him too much, all I could say was that he was sick and didn’t want to make the rest of us sick too. This didn’t make much sense to my toddler, but he seems to have accepted it for now.
We all went through the quarantine days earlier this year, and it wasn’t easy back then either. I think it sort of helped prepare us for now, but I will say it is still difficult. There have been a lot of tantrums in the house lately, and this morning I had a minor break down after my son screamed for an hour and there were messes and toys all over the house. The dishes needed to be done, and I had mountains of laundry piling up. Basically, we are in survival mode at the moment, and it feels hard to get anything accomplished.
I had a friend reach out to me and offer to drop off some groceries or a meal. At first, I declined the offer since my family had dropped some groceries off a few days ago, but after a few minutes, I decided to take her up on the offer of a meal and accept the life raft she had thrown out for me. I broke down and told her about the struggles I had been having and thanked her over and over for her kindness and generosity. One less thing I had to worry about for the day was a little less weight on my shoulders, and I was relieved to not have to worry about cooking dinner.
I don’t know where this reluctance to accept help came from, but it is something I have struggled with for most of my life. When I was in the worst part of my alcohol addiction, my denial of help was a major problem. I had many people reach out to me and say I could call them if I needed to, but I never did. I think a big part of me didn’t want the help because I wasn’t ready to stop drinking. It took an intervention from my family before I was finally willing to get sober, and I am so thankful that I did.
After handling my own addiction, I decided to help others and work in the addiction field. A pretty common trait that I would see among people was a hesitation to accept help from others. Many people would try and deny their problems and say they didn’t need help or “weren’t that bad.” Other people would just get angry whenever help was offered. For whatever reason many addicts I have met just wanted to be left alone. Part of this was a way to try and maintain the addiction, but I also think that part of this points to the resilience that many addicts possess.
It is easy to point out the flaws that a person displays when they are caught up in active addiction, but there are positive traits that can be found in addicts as well. In order to sustain an addiction, a person must be determined, self-reliant, a problem solver, and a creative thinker. Now, these attributes can all be used in a destructive way, as is often the case when it comes to addiction. On the flip side, once an addict gets sober, these attributes can also be used in countless positive ways to create a better life.
So, where do we draw the line when it comes to self-reliance? It’s a good thing to be able to take care of yourself so long as it is not hurting anybody. I think the line in the sand is when this begins to hurt others or ourselves. When we refuse help and instead let ourselves drown, we are not being noble, we are honestly being selfish. You see, when we don’t accept the help that is freely given to us and instead make the decision to play the martyr, we aren’t only hurting ourselves, we are hurting everyone who is near and dear to us. By not getting our own lives in order, the lives that are connected to ours feel the impact as well.
I have learned that not accepting help doesn’t really prove anything to anyone other than ourselves. And really, what is the point of doing this when all it does is hold us back? If you have been on the fence about getting help or if you have declined the help that has been offered to you, I would suggest taking some time to really think about what you are doing. Sure it may seem more impressive to “do it on your own,” and maybe in some ways it is, but other than that what purpose does it serve? If anything, my most recent experience has taught me the importance of community. When it comes to a life of recovery, we all need all the help we can get.
This afternoon my friend dropped off a large bag of takeout food that was enough to feed my entire family dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. She wrapped up some presents for my son and left me an encouraging note. Seeing the joy on my son’s face after a long and stressful week lightened my spirit. Later that evening, the chores that have piled up didn’t seem so daunting. My son went to bed without a fight, and I was able to get some much needed alone time to collect my thoughts. What I have come to realize is that it doesn’t matter if you are in active addiction or have eight years of sobriety under your belt, sometimes we all just need a little help.
So while this may seem like a small thing compared to what many people are going through right now, I am grateful for the line that was thrown to me today. I am grateful that I was able to see my old patterns of destructive self-reliance and take a step back to assess the situation. When we are juggling several things just to stay afloat, one less thing to worry about can make all the difference in the world.