I know it’s been a while, and that’s my fault. I have been here, with myself, wanting to write. Wanting to share with you. Wanting to have something constructive to say, something valuable to add, something meaningful to contribute.
Except that every time I tried, it was too painful. I would meet myself here, and I would shake hands with myself and say: Self, we can do hard things. I would open up a page, stare back at a cursor and feel a surge of cold, dry, emptiness.
That never felt like the “good” or “right” or “worthy” thing to write through. In fact, it felt scary and dark and lonely and isolated and on pins and needles, so I’d close my computer. Walk into another room. And, tell myself I’d try again another day.
I don’t know how many days went by, but let’s say many, and on one of those days, it occurred to me:
I’m going to need a little help over here.
Lord, I am wonderful at so many things, like making salads and pouring appropriately sized glasses of wine and hugging just right and knowing all the words to all of Disney for all of time. But, I am least skilled at asking for help. If asking for help was a sport, I’d have gotten myself cut on the first round. I don’t know how to play. Are there rules? Hell, I don’t know. That’s why I never make the damn team.
Since I’m terrible at it, I rarely practice or put any energy into learning how. I’m one of those people who is either naturally good at something or entirely lost about it, and this has been a kind of blessing that came with a side of cursed. Mainly because I think I assumed, a very long time ago, that if it doesn’t come naturally, it’s not worth my time. And, that was a mistake.
This year, God has sought to correct that in me. Thankfully. Painfully.
So. I realized I was going to need a little help. I felt a wall inside, and I sat with the wall and I looked at the wall and I tried with the wall, but all the wall said was:
I AM A WALL.
I made myself busy and schemed on every way to avoid facing this reality, because I don’t like walls and, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do. Like, I said, asking for help is my least exercised muscle. I waited. I carried on. And, then, one day, I felt the wall closing in on me, and I knew. I heard the voice in my head, and she said HELP, and I told myself a very long time ago that I wouldn’t let her down. So, I did it. I asked. For help.
I went to my doctor and I told him that I’m not okay. That I’m strong, but tired. That I’m brave, but so scared. I got really awkward and the opposite of eloquent and mumbled OUT LOUD to someone OTHER THAN MYSELF:
I think I might maybe possibly I don’t know you tell me need some help over here. (God bless this doctor, because I MEAN).
A few things have happened since then, which are wonderful and small and not dramatic, but first of all:
He promised to help. And, guys, there is something about asking for help that I didn’t realize until now, and it is this.
Help is God’s language. Asking for Help is like picking up the red bat phone to the Universe and saying: I am ready.
HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS TRICK FOR THESE 36 BLASTED YEARS?
I tell you, the skies do not open up, but the senses do. And, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt my skin settle back onto my tissue and my heart beat in my chest and my stomach let go of its grip and what I’m saying is: Right choice, sister.
Asking for help can be hard, but what I’m learning is that the alternative is a wall. And, the wall is too high and built to last and an optical illusion. Because it tells you that you can get over it if you just try hard enough. And, it looks like it’ll fall down if you just kick hard enough. And, it lurks and it stands and it stays and it doesn’t give or budge or move an inch, and neither do you, and you didn’t bring a ladder but even if you did it isn’t enough. And, the wall likes it that way, because it wants you small and solitary and unprepared and not enough.
Help is something entirely different. Help takes your hand, turns you away from the wall and says, “Let’s go in a different direction.” Help walks you through. Help witnesses. Help will rise up or come down to meet you. Help has a new way.
I want to share this with you, because it has been hard to ask for help this season of my life. I am a mother and a woman who has based so much of my identity on my ability to persevere and pull through and overcome and power on. Having to leave that identity behind and let it go has been so incredibly painful. And, many times, I chose the wall instead of help. Because the wall kept me with myself and let me stay very close to my longtime story about who I am and what I am supposed to be.
It has taken staring directly into my pain long enough for me to see that in order to move through, I am going to need a hand. And, if I’m going to get a hand, I’m going to have to let go of my tired, old, raggedy ass story. And, if I’m going to let go of my story, I might as well be willing to open my hand and be led a new way.
I have decided that in my house, we’re going to all learn God’s sacred language, and not a one of us is going to waste time staring at walls when we could be simply, divinely asking for HELP. I have decided that I’d rather have my hand held than balled up in a fist. I’d rather ask you to meet me where I am than try to imagine where you are and find you there. Someday. If that day ever comes.
I know it has been a while, but I was busy staring at a wall. And, finally, thankfully, mercifully, asking for (and receiving) HELP.
Love you and mean it like crazy.