Needs

I have needs.  Right now I’m being overwhelmed with needs.  Liam needs a new winter coat, some long-sleeved shirts, and socks.  Shane needs socks and new glasses.  Serenity needs new clothes.  I need work clothes – all of mine are for summer.  I need Christmas presents for the kids.  I have less than zero money to buy any of these needs.

Bubba is falling further and further behind in his child support payments and has no intention of contributing anything to their care until he finds a job.  If he is following the same pattern he did the other three times he got fired, he is holding out for a job that is “worthy” of him.  I don’t make enough money to cover bills and what meager savings I had is being eaten away and will be gone by the end of the year, simply to pay bills.

I have a huge problem with asking for help with what I need.  Endellion and I were dissecting this last night.  She says it isn’t a bad thing to ask for what I need.  Realistically and rationally, I know this.  Yet, the lessons I grew up with were that asking for your needs to be met was the most horrible thing you could possibly do.  One must always put others before oneself and one must NEVER ask for help.  Asking for help means putting other people out.

I now understand this mentality!  My mother, Celia,  never wanted to bother anyone.  If we follow her flawed logic, we can clearly see that if you are asked to help someone, you simply cannot say no.  To her, if she asked for help, the other person did not have the option of of refusing, no matter how that person felt about actually helping.  She never wanted anyone else to feel that sense of obligation and inability to say “no” so she never asked for help, never expected help, and taught me that I should never ask for or expect help either.  Asking for help was made out to be the 8th deadly sin.

Celia would rather gouge her own eyeballs out than to ask for help.

I thought I was getting better at asking for help but I see now that I’m not okay with it.  I’m not okay with asking others to meet my needs.  When I think about asking someone for help, the internal dialogue in my head tells me that I am weak, that I am selfish, that I am a horrible person.  Endellion called me on this last night.

She very emphatically said, “STOP!  STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP!!!  Listen to yourself.  You are saying all kinds of bad things about yourself and they just aren’t true.  You aren’t selfish.  You aren’t evil.  You are one of the most generous and giving people I’ve ever known.  It is not a bad thing to ask someone to help meet your needs.  When you ask someone for help, they are free to say, “no” to you.  Asking someone for help is NOT selfish!”

A few weeks ago I did ask for help.  I went to our county’s Christmas assistance program and asked for help to buy my children Christmas presents.  I only let the kids list 2 things each that they wanted and I made sure they aren’t expensive things.  I think walking into that office and filling out that paperwork was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I went out to my car when I was done and cried because I know that if I didn’t ask for a small bit of help, I wouldn’t be able to provide any sort of Christmas for my kids.  Even with their help (if it comes through), they will still only have one or two things each under the tree.

The more pressing issue is the clothes that they need.  It is getting cold here and they need warm clothes.  Even as I type this, I’m thinking, “Wow, I hope no one thinks I’m sitting here begging for help.  I hope they understand that I’m not asking for hand-outs – I’m simply stating facts.”  I have a tremendous amount of guilt just typing this.  I stated on Facebook this past week that the children and I need things and I had nice people offer to send us things.  I don’t feel comfortable giving out my address because I’m still paranoid enough to think that Bubba is going to find this blog and somehow use it against me.

Someone suggested using a local church as an address to have things sent to and even revealing what city I live in scares me.  But when I dig down deep, I realize I’m finding excuses to not let people help me.  I say, “I don’t want to put people out.  I don’t want to have these clothes sent to a safe person out of state and have her mail them to me because I can’t afford the postage and I wouldn’t want to put that on a friend.”  I can find plenty of reasons to not let people help me.  It all comes down to the fact that I don’t feel okay even admitting that I need help, let alone asking for help.

The simple fact, though, is that I do need help.  Bubba has proven that he won’t help take care of his children.  He won’t pay child support so I can’t meet their basic needs for warmer clothes.  I also can’t afford a baby-sitter so I can have some time off.  He’s taken one weekend of visitation in over three months.  Since I have to travel so far, I stayed with friends.  I’m happy I have the option to do that because I can’t afford all of that gas money, but it means I got no alone time.  I need a break because I feel myself burning out.  During our marriage, Bubba ensured that I never had time off away from him or the children.  He is effectively doing the same thing now by refusing to take his visitation.  I need a break.  I’m working on ways to get a break but it is hard as people are afraid to take Shane overnight.

I also have a need for physical touch.  I have huge body boundaries which makes physical touch with anyone a huge problem.  I have a neighbor, Sean, who I’m feeling more comfortable asking for hugs when I just can’t stand it anymore – basically when I’m crying and the emotional pain is manifesting as physical pain.  (Don’t worry, dear Reader, you’ll meet Sean next month.)

Endellion and I touched on this subject last night too.  I don’t feel comfortable asking Sean to meet that physical need for touch (and I’m not talking in a sexual way, it is just simple touch) because I’d feel like I was using him.  I know he is attracted to me and I’m not attracted to him.  He is my friend.  Endellion pointed out that if I ask him for a hug, he is free to say no.  If he says yes and gives me a hug, he is giving it freely and will have to accept the consequences of his decision.  It is not using him to ask him to meet a need because he is free to accept or decline.

However, the message I still have in my mind is that if I ask he can’t say no.  I’m still fighting the horrid lessons I learned from Celia.  I don’t know how to turn them off in my head.

Asking for help and accepting help are hugely difficult for me.  Each and every time someone has given me something or offered help along this journey, I’ve broken down and cried because I am simply amazed at the generosity and love that people have shown me.  I’ve felt guilty about each and ever gift along the way too.  I’ve felt like I’m putting people out, that I’m taking something away from them.

I need to switch that mindset around.  I’m not taking something from the people who have donated things to me.  They have been freely given.  The people who have given things to me over the past 2 years have done it because they have huge hearts.  I know this.  And I know I take something away from that with my attitude.  I would never hurt those generous people for anything in the world.  By diminishing their generosity, I hurt them.

The old scripts are going to be replaced by new ones.

*I’m not taking things from people.  People are freely giving me things from their hearts.

*I’m not selfish for asking for my needs to be met.  It is okay to ask someone else to meet a need that I have.

*I’m not using Sean if I ask for a hug.  He is free to give a hug or not, he is under no obligation to give it.

*I’m not bad, weak, or wrong for asking for help.  I’m a person who is worthy of asking for help and accepting help when it comes.

These lessons that Celia taught are so deeply ingrained in me that it will take a long time to work through.  I know this.  It is something I’m going to fight for though because I am worthy, I am loved, I have great friends, and people are generally good and generous.

Celia was wrong.  It is not weak to ask for help.  It is human.

UPDATE:  I wrote this post on Tuesday morning.  That evening a friend who hadn’t been online texted me out of the blue  and asked if I needed anything.  I gave her my prayer requests and told her about the generous offers I received on my FB page.  She immediately offered to have people send stuff to her and she’d then send it to me.  God never ceases to amaze me!  I was so stressed about asking for help and God took it out of my hands.  I now have a safe place to have things sent to and she said she’d gladly pay the postage to send things to me.  God is really, truly amazing and He really does provide!  He’s provided a way to get me things in a manner that keeps me safe.

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6 Comments

  1. (My stepson’s mom hasn’t been sending child support either and it is much needed. Totally relating with you there.) I have hard a hard time even just accepting help, let alone asking for it. When my parents asked if they could bring over the old swingset from their place and put it in our yard for our kids, it felt wrong to say yes. Mom brings me meatloaf and jambalaya and stuff because she knows I have a hard time cooking for the family when I get overwhelmed by other things. Dad came over to work on my lawn mower (CJ is not the handy-around-the-house type at all). Stuff like that. And my mom will show up with clothes or a toy for the kids. Recently, both kids needed beds, and my parents came up with two complete beds with mattresses and everything for them. (!) They aren’t wealthy. They are just resourceful. One was the bed frame from my childhood, another was a daybed frame from Craigslist… Stuff like that, but we couldn’t even afford the little money some of these inexpensive second-hand things would have cost.

    It’s been tough because I lived so many places around so many people where even gifts were anticipated to be favors requiring equal repayment. I just wrote my parents a letter about this a few days ago. I told them it reminded me of salvation. It is given, not traded or earned. Learning to accept love in any form, hugs or gifts or emotional support, is part of learning to love, not just yourself, but how to love others more truly, and how to LET GOD LOVE YOU through the hands of others. A life for Him is a love response, just as we want to express gratitude to those who love us… Not because they demand repayment, but because we appreciate the love and sacrifice and want to give what we do have – our own friendship – in return.

    • That was beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing that analogy!

      I’m glad your parents are able to help you! That is wonderful and such a blessing.

  2. Glad your friend was willing to help and I do pray things will get better for you. 🙂

  3. Ingrid T

    I have been where you are. My youngest was 5 years old before I bought him any clothes or shoes or coats. His grandma’s did that. I simply had no money. A church member would stop on a Saturday AM and take my son to run errands with him (his twins were teens by then) and my so would come home with a haircut, a new book or something to talk about… and always a huge smile. And I had a couple free hours to study. One thing I did learn. If everyone gave, there would be no one to give to! Sometimes the best gift you can give another person is to accept their gift!!!!

    • I’m learning this. I know how amazing I’ve always felt when I’ve given. It was as much a blessing to me as it was to the person who was receiving. It’s just very hard to put myself on the other side of that equation. But I am learning.

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