Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Dare You

The jacket was inherited years ago from an uncle who died of cancer. When I wear it I think of him. The scarf was a gift from dear friend M - thank you, love!

You won't catch me referring to cancer as a gift. No way around it, cancer sucks. There are many many more fun and exciting efforts I would rather be rallying my troops around instead of the effort to save my hide.

That said, it is quite amazing how people will come through for you if only you dare ask. These last few days I've been doing just that. I've decided to face this one last round of Adriamycin/Cytoxan and do it in style - with plenty of support of all kinds - hand-holders, soup-makers, distraction-deliverers, dog-walkers, etcetera. And I have been asking for all that I need and want. From everything I hear, this is the worst part coming up, so I'm pulling out all the stops.

I am a champ at facing challenges solo. It feels so hard to ask for help, and to be clear about what's helpful and what's not, I'm often so discouraged that I convince myself it's a fruitless pointless effort and I don't even try. It's easy to think that going it alone is better. But it's not. I promise you it is not.

This song was sent to me today by my friend G. It's a good one, don't you think?

Now, for those of you who aren't in my immediate world and are asking what you can do, here's something: join me in fighting for your own best life.

I dare you: whatever challenge is on your plate at the moment, ask for support. Even if you think you don't strictly need help, even if it feels embarrassing, even if you feel guilty doing it. Help is good. Not just for you, but for the helper too. We all need excuses to be closer to each other. Isolation sucks.

A few ground rules for the dare:

1. Choose something small - company on a long drive or a challenging hike, a follow-up "how was it?" phone call after a high-stakes interview, someone to go with you to the doctor's appointment you dread. Envision it exactly the way you want, and set out to fulfill that vision. Be very specific about what you want and when you want it. Make it a one-time thing (for now) with clear and realistic parameters.

Salad was my challenge today! It's not a pleasure to eat like it should be, but I found I'm well enough finally to almost enjoy it.
2. Ask someone special, and ask them specifically. A mass email plea for support is appropriate sometimes (hell, I sent out two today!) but in this instance, pick someone just right for the task, someone from whom a "yes" would be a thrill. Be sure to tell them why you picked them. This is a major compliment - be sure to give it. Allow room for no, and if that's what you hear, even if the person has trouble saying it, accept it graciously and go ask someone else.

3. Offer nothing in return but your undying gratitude. It doesn't mean you can't ultimately pay back, or that you won't one day pay forward, but challenge yourself to trust that whomever you're addressing will be pleased to do something for you, simply because it's you.

Mix and match soup: the last of my Mom's borscht plus a scoop of my own plain squash and mushroom concoction. Delicious!

4. Be gentle with yourself. If asking for help is a skill you haven't developed, don't expect to do it perfectly first time out of the gate. Consider this a practice round. You'll make mistakes, you'll feel awkward. But that's the only way to learn.

5. Share your experience, your failures and successes. When have you asked for support? How did you feel? What happened? Post a comment below. Do it anonymously if that feels better. Let's inspire each other!

If all of this seems overwhelming, you're thinking too big. Start with micro-steps. Ask for directions, for help carrying bags in from the car, a glass of water. You can do this!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I'm apparently known as someone who has trouble asking for help but I had to this week, or at least I had to accept it grudgingly (I know - that doesn't strictly meet the criteria of the "dare"!). My friend saying "please let me help you" broke me down and I said ok - needed that ride to the doctor since I was unable to turn my head. I had to admit - it felt strange at first but it felt great in the end and I have to believe that it felt god to be able to help someone who is typically unhelpable (is that a word?). Thanks for the reminder - I'm going to work on asking with intention!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for showing a pic wearing your new scarf. It's as if I'm there. I love it on you and you look fabulous! My week is now complete!!
Love and thoughts always,

debra said...

You are ONE SEXY BABE!!!!

Sonya said...

Asking for helps is something I typically never do. However I have been stepping up to the plate and asking for help. I must say I cringe a bit inside whenever I do ask for help. It's a retraining process I'm finding. It's ok to give AND receive help. That's why we are here. - to then pay it forward.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha you are priceless.

So giving;

I didn't even ask and you helped me face up to an intergenerational family phenomenon?
My sisters and I have a pathological aversion to asking for help because WE DON'T WANT TO BOTHER ANYONE BECAUSE OUR NEEDS ARE NOT IMPORTANT...Catholic patriarchy, bah!

Feel better? I do...

Rock on!

Delaney's Duds said...

It is so hard to ask for help, isn't it. And all of those thoughts you mentioned, worthiness, fear (of rejection), exposure (of weakness), and others are all so raw. But it is really amazing what happens when you do ask. Over this past year it has been apparent to me who stepped up and was here for me without asking, but also those that I got closer with and let into my life some more. :o) Thank you for putting my feelings into words when I could not find them. I hope I see you in the pool this week. <3

Anonymous said...

What an *amazing* post. On the flip side, I recently did one of those "random acts of kindness" and I gotta say, what was thrilling was that person I helped was able to accept and be thrilled and gracious about it. So sometimes when we ask for something it really becomes a gift to the "askee."

And yeah, I need to ask for help and I never do. What a good reminder and lesson.

You are such a cool person--the vlog is really helpful in getting a more "full bodied" experience of you.

Good luck tomorrow.

Suzanne Burley said...

Just had breakfast with my "Diva" friends to support one who starts her second chemo treatment next Tuesday. This blog is full of helpful tips for friends to follow. Thanks for keeping all of us inspired.
Wish I could be in CT to hold your hand. Will be in Pittsburgh with my 95 year old mother, who needs me, too. Being needed is a wonderful feeling.