I was looking for a picture that illustrates my problem with “asking for help,” and I didn’t have to look far to find one. This is the side of my house, this time last year. When the leaves open up on the trees to the right, this area is in total shade. So grass doesn’t grow, and I’d love to grow something, but I don’t ask for help and so it stays like this, year after year.
As a disclaimer, my intention with this blog is to record my experience as an old-timer. Asking for help is a classic problem that newcomers face, along with, I believe, asking for too much help. But that’s not why I’m here. Carole and I had dinner with someone we know who has struggled in the program and she told us, “I don’t want someone to tell me what to do.” As two people who for today have achieved significant long-term sobriety, Carole and I agreed that when we finally did get sober (me on my 2001st try), we were finally ready and grateful to have someone tell us what to do. We had to admit that our own way of doing things was going one way, down hill. That’s part of the newcomer dilemma of asking for and receiving help.
But what is like for me, several decades up the hill from that final first breakthrough? We were just at a Quaker silent meeting, and I had this topic on my mind as something to meditate on if I needed a topic. Which I did.
I find that a lot of my spare thoughts go to my work. I’ve been, at various times in my life, a student, a stay at home mother, a working mother. I’ve been partnered and single. I find it appropriate that at my age and stage of life, I should think a lot about work. I should probably be at my best their as well, since my kids are grown and my education is pretty much complete.
There are new things I’m trying to learn. I’m sort of trying to learn to play the guitar (without much practice), how to be a better investigator (I do investigations as part of my work). I ask my daughter to help me learn to knit and crochet. I sometimes halfheartedly think about being a better manager. Halfheartedly because my heart has never been in managing people. I work with adults who have developmental disabilities (mental retardation), and I’ve truly loved working with them and tried to do it better all the time. But my work partner and I finally asked to manage the program because we lived through a string of terrible managers and things always got worse, never better. Today in the Quaker meeting I was thinking how sad for the clients and the staff that one of their leaders is half-hearted. They deserve someone who will give her whole heart to it.
So what does asking for help look like in my life today? I asked for opinions when I had to fly to Hawaii and considered taking a drug to deal with my fear. I concretely ask for help when I want to do something like knit, and I have to say that even though I ask, I’m not assured of getting help because my daughter sometimes points me to a book plus she’s left-handed. I do turn to books and learning when I want to get better at some things like managing or investigating. I turn away from learning about things that don’t interest me, like the side yard. And there’s the whole aspect of asking for help in a relationship that I couldn’t blog about and expect to keep the relationship.