“You know, we wouldn’t have known you needed our support if you didn’t tell us. Since we know now, we get to be here for you.” Bob said to me when I asked my close friends, Bob, Deena, Toni, and Elaine, to help me.
You see, my father died two weeks ago, I was, and to a lesser extent, still am, a hot mess. I was there when my father died and spent that first week supporting my stepmom with all of the logistics and grief. Much of my own grief was put on hold in order to support her. During that first week I let my friends know what was going on and that I would need them to support me when I got back. They all were so caring and willing to be available to me. Last week, I was able to be with friends each day who were loving and caring and WANTED to support me. I just had to ask. This occurred with my therapist colleagues as well. Many of these colleagues I know mainly through Facebook Therapists groups, I admit, this took me by surprise. I needed advice on how to notify my clients that I needed to cancel appointments for a few weeks. Not only did I get really good directions on what to tell them, but also condolences, and offers to cover my cases if needed.
This isn’t a blog talking about how to ask for help, but to remind you to learn and practice asking for it waaayyyy before you need HELP. It took me years to learn to ask for help AND to learn to ask the right people.
That’s right. You need to learn who are the trustworthy people who will be there for you when you need them. The people we assume will be there for us are often the ones we can’t rely upon. Family, spouses, and some friends can, and do, let us down.
Practice asking for help. This involves becoming assertive. Start with little things, like asking someone to go somewhere with you, driving you to get your car from the mechanic, asking for gas money if you drive all the time. Asking them to listen when you need advice. If they can’t be there for small things, then they can’t be trusted to be there for big things. That friend “who’s good fun at parties” may not be able to be there when you need them.
And you need more than one. It’s very easy to burn out even your best friends if they are the only one, and you rely on them constantly.
My stepmom is so lucky because she has friends from several different groups she belongs to: her church, her three choirs she sings in, her neighbors, the senior center, and so on. Are these her best friends? No. They are trustworthy friends who heard her asking for help in a time of need. I’m lucky because I have friends from different social groups as well.
Learn to ask for help and find those trustworthy to ask. Then practice. The time may come when you need them for serious support.