Hey, I wanted to mention that I need things. Lately a few people are coming to me for help, and I’m glad I can share info, ideas, support, my own experience.
I’m learning how to ask for help too. It’s way easier for me to give help, than to learn how to ask for help.
How do you ask for help? Does it work? Some people seem to think I have all I need, I have my shit together, and Ming is super skilled at caring for me so I don’t need anyone else.
Nope, not true. Well, I have all I really need. I do have my shit together in some ways. Ming is super skilled at caring for me, but he has narcolepsy, ocd, and other disabilities, including a learning disability related to language processing.
Often I praise Ming in my blog posts and on facebook. It’s all true–his kindness, willingness to feel and have difficult conversations, his responsibility, how he’s not afraid to nurture and show up. But some people see that and think I need no other support. I need a diversity of support. It’s not healthy for anyone, for me to single-source on Ming. He and I have a fantastic mini-fam, but we’re separate people also, and we need it that way.
Please see me as an individual. It’s true that having Ming means I have a lot. But my disabilities are also serious. Organizing the Las Vegas Radical Mental Heath Collective and other service we do takes so much out of us. That’s ok, a good choice for meaning and hopefully a way to help the world. But I give a lot, so I need to receive also, for my own well-being and to avoid burnout.
I need love, touch, to feel like I matter, for people to check in on me. I want affection, to be understood, to feel valued and valuable. Laughter, joy, shared creativity, to relax together. Wordplay, for sure. I want to collaborate, and I want balanced relationships where we’re vulnerable and giving similar amounts, on equal footing. Not things whacked out where I’m giving way more, the power is off, or I’m getting hurt and no one knows.
I need help from people who I trust and feel good about. Trust isn’t easy; it usually takes a while. And if someone hurts me, I can lose my ability to trust them. Some hurts can be resolved, and some really can’t.
Sometimes I can’t tell if someone’s a good person to ask for help until I try. By then, I’m in a precarious position. Some people are better at helping than others. It hurts a lot to ask for help and not get it. Or when I ask for something specific, and the helping person twists it into something else that’s easier for them to give, or that they think would work just as well.
I can’t broadcast a request for help, because some people I trust to do certain things, some people other things, some people not at all. So I need to make specific requests, but that’s terrifying! I risk rejection, it getting weird somehow, being indebted to someone it turns out I never wanted to be indebted to, getting closer to someone who’s going to use me.
Yikes, sounds like I should run away to a hermit hut in the forest. But I need people, and the reasons I’m on earth include inter-dependence and community. So I have to keep trying.
I brainstormed a list of ways to ask for help.
- Ask for prayers or ritual. Friends sometimes say they’ll light a candle for me or send love.
- Ask for food–something they cooked, from a restaurant, from a store.
- Ask for reassurance, possibly with specific sentences. I believe in you, you matter to me, your needs are valid, and how you feel makes sense are good sentences.
- Ask for someone to run an errand for me or with me.
- Ask for a specific social time. A walk, an hour of conversation, a phone call or video call, my back touched.
- Ask for someone to support Ming in a specific way, to give him some kindness, since he expends a ton of energy caring for me.
what Ming said
Ming suggested that I ask someone to reach out and help someone who I usually help. I like that idea, to take pressure off me. He’s done that for me before, checking in with someone who’s struggling who I usually check in with.
Another idea Ming had was to clear space in my life to receive help. So days off, and setting boundaries for when and how I help others. Sounds good.
But I feel like I’m missing something. Some attitude of ask? I see people who are manipulative perform a brokenness, and I realize that I’m not good at that. Manipulating others to help me isn’t what I want to do–I err on the opposite side. Like I’m accidentally manipulating others in the opposite way, as I pretend I’m ok.
People who live in alcoholism / drug addiction families learn to act like everything’s ok in some extremely not ok situations. I hide my issues as much as I can, which is a coping strategy. I try really hard to seem together, because I had to, as a kid and young person. The habit stuck.
Autism is similar–women and nonbinary people with autism often get good at mimicking the people around us in social situations as we try to figure out what to do. Mostly I didn’t talk.
But the ways I did learn to be around people were all performance. What comes naturally to me is not within the narrow range of acceptable behaviors. So it’s all forced and learned, and the performances I’ve learned don’t include “look at me–I need help.” They are all the opposite of that–I’m ok, don’t look at me.
how are you doing
How are you doing is a question I’m usually good at answering. I think about it and answer honestly, to the people who I think can hear the real answer. Txting hurts my body physically because of some chronic pain issues–sometimes it’s way easier to say “ok” than to give the long answer.
Because txting hurts, varied ways of communicating can help. I’ve been doing more voice memos with people. My hearing comprehension is almost as good as my reading-by-eye comprehension. And it doesn’t hurt my body.
This is a big topic, and I’ll keep thinking about it. Meanwhile, please share with me. What works for you, asking for help? How can we do better at supporting each other? I want to perform vulnerability in ways that work.