I had a great morning, after a disturbed night’s sleep at work. I saw a friend and we went shopping for various things around Oxford Circus, etc.
At one point, I was about to try on a jumper in H&M. My friend asked whether I would like her to hold my bags, which I had been about to lug into the changing room with me. She looked at me like it was the most obvious thing in the world for her to look after all my stuff as I went to slip on the top.
At work, people often have to remind me that I don’t have to hold, e.g., the medication folder and the keys and the phone and the pen and a spare pen and the new meds we are about to take round with us. There are always two of us and work shared is work halved (or thirds-ded, etc). I am always grateful for, but also surprised by, this advice.
I don’t know why this is. Throughout my whole life, I have had help of one form or another. Help to learn to read, help to learn to write, help with my mental health, help learning to walk on crutches. I should be used to it. It’s not like I’ve always had to do everything by myself to the point where it’s somehow ingrained in me. It’s not that at all.
So, as you do, I’ve been having a little think about this for the last half hour or so. I haven’t really reached a conclusion but have some ideas I could bat around.
I think a lot of people, perhaps especially people who have relied heavily on help in the past, are determined to be self-sufficient to the point where it’s almost unhelpful. I want to prove to myself (and others) that I am perfectly capable of doing things alone. In my studies, that was always the case. Even writing my dissertation, I chose a subject very few people knew much about, so a lot of the groundwork came from me alone. That proved to be a good thing in some ways: independence has so many benefits I don’t even need to detail here. But taking everything upon yourself to the point where you are (sometimes almost literally) juggling, makes you tired and also leaves way too much room for error. When you take everything on yourself, you are solely responsible for the outcomes of things.
Another thing is that, though I’ve received a lot of help in the past, not all of it has been especially helpful. I think I’ve gone into detail about that on this blog before (Patronising Psychiatrist; CMHT as an adolescent; teachers, doctors, etc). So I have come to see help from others as something that, though often essential, is not always the right fit. Therefore, I have a slight trust issue when it comes to other people giving me a helping hand. Even when I know someone is probably even more capable than me, I have those brief moments of doubt during which I wonder how, and if, they can actually help.
Finally, of course, I try to be a people-pleaser. I want to do things, properly, by myself, because I want people to think the best of me. I need to remind myself almost constantly that trying to be superwoman will not make people think better of me. That I am better off shifting some of the load if what I really want is to make a good impression. As the Scrubs theme tune goes, “I’m no superman”. Why try to be?
Anyway, I did get my friend to hold my bags for me, and I have learned to ask other people to do things when I’m struggling, and I am learning that I don’t need to do everything when it’s to the detriment of myself/ my work/ my leisure-time. I’m learning.