Asking for Help

I am a caregiver. It’s my nature as a “fixer” and–for better or for worse–my calling as a nurse. And like most caregivers it is difficult for me to ask to be cared for. It’s one of the lessons I learned when I broke my back: the power in vulnerability of asking for assistance and care. It takes courage to admit when you are hurting or simply just flagging in energy.

A couple of weeks ago my half full glass tumbled off the side of the table and shattered into little bits.  It’s too tedious to explain why I was spent, but after almost a year and a half in my new nursing role I experienced the very real and very scary “caregiver’s fatigue”.  Been there done that at least sixty times in thirty years.

“Did you have a better day? Are you off tomorrow?”

“No and no” was my flat reply.

“I wish I had known this. I would have brought you dinner.” 

His response made me cry.  This whole relationship thing is new to me. People in relationship ask one another for help and they want to be there for you.  I didn’t give him a chance to show me how much he cares for me. Dinner was secondary.

Why didn’t I message him earlier? I would have loved dinner with Dr. Doctor.

I hate this job. Hate. This. Job.  I need to be around someone who doesn’t need me. I need to be in the midst of something I don’t loathe. 

I should have sent him that message mid afternoon when I was drowning.  But it didn’t occur to me to ask for emotional support because that degree of emotional intimacy and need scares me.  It doesn’t scare me if it’s asked of me. Oh Hell no, I’m the fixer and the caregiver.  It terrifies me to be that vulnerable.  But a healthy relationship is an exchange. I need to give my him the chance to care for me when I need it. On that very note, a wise and dear friend said: “there is strength and vulnerability in accepting the offer [of help]”.

Asking for help shouldn’t be this difficult. The knot in my back where my mangled third lumbar vertebrae lives should be a consistent reminder I deserve care and assistance whether it be physical or emotional. So before I break something else I’m going to get this right and ask.


About Laura

When my nest emptied I moved from the big city to a little big town to tend to a ramshackle yellow house on the edge of town. These are my Yellow House Days.
This entry was posted in at the heart of things, dating games. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Asking for Help

  1. I don’t ask for help either–childhood training! It’s a burden to be in this place. Don’t be hard on yourself-recognition is the first step!


  2. Hi Laura….Your significant other’s response was extremely sweet and a huge clue that he’s a keeper. 37 years ago my then boyfriend did something very similar that made my heart melt and told me that he was at his core a kind and loving man. I married that guy and here we are 37 years later. He has shown me over and over again that he WANTS to help and that all I have to do is ask. Even the best of them aren’t mind readers! You/me/we just have to remember that we deserve that kind of love. ~Kathy


    • Laura says:

      Fortunately, I realized other people in my life are not mind readers about twenty years ago. I’m very lucky the new boyfriend stumbled onto me and I hope he is in my life for a very long time.


  3. I am also the caregiver long before mom. I’ve been taking care of people since my dad died suddenly when I was 15. I would rather die than be that vulnerable…until I almost did. I had never let anyone take care of me. Hell the day I got out of the hospital from having my daughter by c-section. I cooked dinner for my guys and then we all went to hubby’s softball game. When I started getting sick I ignored it, when I could no longer walk I crawled but I refused to be “taken care of”. It’ll pass, I’ll be okay. Fin enough was enough hubby threw me in the car and drove me to the ER. Still I told the nurse I’m just not feeling well. They said if I had waited 3 more hours I would have died. I spent almost 2 weeks in ICU almost a month in the hospital. The man I was afraid would let me down never left my side for a moment. I remembered over the years saying to him “If I ever got really sick you couldn’t handle it you’d be gone” and then not understanding why he would look so hurt. It’s hard so hard to let go of those reins even for a little bit. Now I’m a full time caregiver to mom and I get aggravated with myself because I STILL struggle with asking for help, even when I desperately need it.


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