Kat, Sarah, and I have collaborated to post a prompt-a-day in December.  Check the #Reverb12 page for prompts and and take a look at the main page for the basic instructions on the project.

December 2: Help: Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. When and how did you ask for help? Alternatively, did someone ask you for help and how did it play out?

I am trying not to be so angry about everything.

That is a lie.

The truth is: I tend to let the emotional stuff fester.  I try hard to see problems from all angles; I try hard to be An Adult.  But there are certain things that push my buttons: For instance, I hate dishonesty with an irrational passion.  White lies?  Whatever.  Outrageous, ridiculous, manipulative dishonest lying bullshit?  I hate being manipulated.  I will walk 12 miles, in the snow, uphill both ways if it means that I can avoid giving someone something to lord over me that can later be used for manipulation.

You may have noticed, I’ve had some bad relationships.

You need to be less suspicious of people, my best friend Jade reminds me all the time, Just accept things as they are.

But even with that in mind, I have a blanket hatred of active dishonesty (I suppose I tolerate lies of omission a bit better).  I am so scared of the mere prospect of being manipulated that accepting most help — unless it is from a service provider I can pay for the transaction at hand — is something I avoid.

One prime example of this was late last Thursday night in the Hong Kong airport, as I was carrying my stupidly heavy carry-on bag.  My much taller, much bigger friend offered to take it off my hands.  I declined.  In London the next morning, I finally relented, and later that day he said something to the effect of having someone else help me not being a sign of weakness.

But I didn’t want anyone to say:  That idiot woman, she packed so heavy a bag she couldn’t even manage her carry-on herself. 

In reality:  I had gone from New York to Hong Kong to London and was moving between a variety of business and social climates.  That I had packed a carry-on was in itself a feat.  But I suppose I was still scared.

I digress.

By last month, I had become awfully tangled in some bad feelings and I finally engaged in a group chat with eee and Mayhem over it.

I felt so bad that finally gotten to a place of asking for help.  And shockingly, my friends did not outright agree with my assessment of where I was and whether I was right and whether what I was doing was the proper course of action.  They did not take my bad feelings at face value.  They challenged me.

What kind of friends do that?!

Right.  The good ones.

But what of that support?  When I was in treatment for my eating disorder, we were allowed to contact each other outside of Group for purposes of “recovery calls.” And we had our group of girls who texted and talked and I probably wouldn’t have survived save for those strategic pings from those women.  Those texts and chats and meet-ups were sometimes the hardest things ever, because I was (and am) not good at being vulnerable.  I am not good at saying: This is my struggle. 

We still keep in touch some.  Because when you’ve been through that unique experience together, you need that support of people who were in the trenches, and who understand the sadness, and the loneliness, and the grim humour of it all.  Because it is funny sometimes.

Likewise, in this situation, asking for help — however obliquely I did it — was hard.

But what I have discovered is that taking in the help, and being accountable to the plan of action to feel better, is even harder.  But it is made easier by friends who are willing to get their hands dirty.

In a later conversation, Mayhem — who had been experiencing stuff similar to mine, albeit for wholly different reasons and circumstances — and I resolved to let go of our bad feelings.  And since money is a powerful motivator, we each decided that every time we went back to a bad space, we’d donate money to a women’s charity — yet to be determined.  It would be a sort-of virtual swear jar.  We’d tally up the transgressions, with the aim of being conscious of the anger; conscious of ourselves and our feelings.  And we’d do something good with it all at the end of the year.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it?  Your friends aren’t necessarily there to make you feel good.  You hope that they’re there to make you be good; do good.  They’re there to challenge you and kick your ass and get you out of bad headspaces.  The feeling good comes along with all of those things happening.

That said, we’ve raised like $100 so far.  So…it — and we — are a work in progress.

1 Comment

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  1. On my shortlist, after people who willfully deceive others, are idiots. I just cannot with them.

    With that, I completely agree that friends are there to force us to do better for ourselves and for the other people and things in our lives. Even independent acts are made easier, when you know that others are fighting their own, parallel war.

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