Thursday, December 5, 2013

Helping and Being Helped

While I have a hard time asking for help, I usually do not have a hard time offering to help others.  And I usually like it when friends ask me to help them.  I can't always help everyone, I can't always offer whatever someone needs, but when I can help, I like to do so.

It hurts my feelings sometimes, though, when people decline my offers of help.  I realize that when you offer to help someone with something, they may not accept that help for a variety of reasons.  Logically, rationally, I know that most of the time, it probably has nothing to do with me personally.  I still end up feeling rejected, though.  I start thinking of how much I wish there was someone to help me with things like whatever it is I am offering to help with and I don't understand why they wouldn't want my help.

I realize how messed up that probably is.  If I'm offering to help someone, it should be about them.  Not about me.  Not about what I would want help with.

Bear with me, please.

A couple months ago, I had a friend that was going through a difficult time.  She needed to see a doctor and was stressed out about it.  I offered to go with her.  She didn't want me to.  I was confused and hurt. 

You know how hard it was for me to find someone to go with me to the hospital when I had surgery to remove the lump in my breast?  More recently, when I had to have oral surgery to remove that broken tooth, I went alone, which meant I couldn't be sedated for the procedure, because there was no one to go with me.  I had a friend that had agreed to go and then backed out at the last minute.  When I had to get a follow up mammogram (follow up from the biopsy) earlier this week, I didn't even try to get anyone to go with me.  I didn't even know who to ask that might possibly be willing to do it.

So it's hard for me to imagine why my friend was so adamantly opposed to me going with her.  Maybe it wasn't about me.  Maybe she wouldn't have wanted anyone to go.  I don't want to post private details about her on the internet without her permission, so I'm not going to say what she needed to see a doctor for.  But she was anxious about it and she had been feeling pretty depressed and I thought it would make her feel better to have someone go with her.  I thought it would make her feel better to have me go with her.  But she didn't want me to.

And there could be lots of reasons why she didn't want me to go with her.  Maybe she just wanted to be alone, maybe she felt it was too private to share with me, who knows.  She didn't explain why and I didn't press her for a reason.  She didn't even have to have a reason.  It's OK to say no for any reason at all.  I believe that.

But it still hurt my feelings.

More recently, a friend had surgery and is therefore somewhat limited mobility-wise.  She recently posted on Facebook asking who wanted to volunteer to come help her with someone.  Again, I'm not giving details because I don't have her permission to post personal stuff about her on my blog.  Several people responded by saying they would help if they lived closer to her.  I replied and said I would be happy to do it for her and to help with anything else she needed.  She replied by thanking me but saying she didn't really need help.

Well.... OK.  Why post saying you needed help if you didn't?  I mean, I know I've posted on Facebook before, saying something like, "Who wants to come clean my bathroom for me?" and I don't really expect anyone to say, "I'd love to, I'll be right over."  But if someone did?  I'd say, "Great!  I'll put on some coffee." 

Would she have accepted the offer if it had come from someone else?  I don't know. 

Do you know how much I would have loved to have someone come walk Isaac for me after my breast biopsy?  The friend that went to the hospital with me took me to the pharmacy to fill my prescription for pain meds, then took me home, then left.  No one even called me to see how I was doing or ask if I needed anything.  No one asked if I needed anything from the store or if they could take Isaac out for me or anything.

But maybe other people don't need help with any of that stuff.  Maybe that's why they don't want my help with me.   Maybe they just don't need that kind of help.  And maybe that's why I have trouble finding someone to help me with those things.   Maybe no one offers to do those things for me because it's not something most people would need help with.  Maybe I just need or want too much help.  I don't know.

I just know that I often feel I don't have help when I need it and I don't understand why people don't want my help or why they don't want to help me.


  1. Who knows what makes some people tick. I feel frustrated (not necessarily hurt) when someone clearly needs help but won't accept my offer of help and they continue to struggle and even worse complain about it. I think the reasons are complex. Some people only want to ask for help from people they know won't need their help in return. Brian is like that unfortunately. We have a neighbor who is great at home repairs but he feels like if he takes this guy's help then the neighbor will expect help in return at an inconvenient time. It's selfish to me to only want to take help and not give it back if one is able and I've told Brian that. The world works better when people give and receive help and can both give and take it without an expectation of owing someone something. I think if someone needs help and doesnt accept it when it's offered they have a possible problem with trust and unconditional friendship. Sometimes I can return help that is given to me and sometimes not but that shouldn't prevent me from asking for help or preventing it. Some of us need help more than others at different times. Does this make sense?

    1. Yes, it makes sense. I don't help people with the expectation that I'll get something back from them. I guess I think if they are able to help me sometime in the future, then they should... but I help because I want to help, and because I can, and because people have helped me at times without expecting anything in return. I believe in karma. I figure it all comes back somehow.