I literally hate to ask for help. I see myself as strong and independent and I don’t need anyone to help me do anything, thank you very much. And then I got cancer. Talk about a humbling lesson in needing others and having to ask for help.
So many people have offered to help me — to bring me things, to drive me to appointments, to join me at appointments, to cook for me, to clean for me — and I’m trying to show my gratitude, but it’s hard. That sounds just awful, but accepting their help reminds me that I’m weaker (or will be) and less capable than I always have been, and after all, helping others is my job, dammit! I have even resented my husband coming with me to certain appointments. I know he needs to be there and should be there for me and for him, but it makes me feel like a little old lady who can’t remember what the doctor says and needs an escort. I sound just awful, don’t I?
But as I think about it, this isn’t about resentment, or being an ungrateful bitch, it’s about fear. Fear that I won’t ever get back to taking care of myself. Fear that I’ll be weak and never able to swim again, fear that I won’t be able to get in the car and go for a drive by myself with the music blaring. And these offers of help — and accepting them — make me feel like I’m just taking this lying down without a fight. Of course, it would be rather stupid for me to drive myself to chemo and get into an accident, or try to cook when I’m not up to it, but I never said this was rational.
Thankfully, my daughter (an apple that did not fall too far from this particular tree) has offered to step in and “project manage” my cancer — to notify people when I come out of surgery or provide other updates, to organize meal delivery during chemo, etc. Somehow I’m able to accept “project management” more easily than I am able to accept “help” — she knows me too well.