Asking for help is a place of vulnerability, an act of courage, and it can be a doorway into freedom from our carefully constructed false selves. And when our false self gives way to our true self, the glory of messy-beautiful living may be just around the corner…
Having three kids in a dual-earner family feels a lot like juggling.
Except the balls are children, and the balls are unpredictable and crabby and they bite the hand that catches them. My wife and I are supposed to keep these precious balls aloft, but they don’t want to be caught—they want to watch television and eat sweets and show me they are in charge of the act.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m the one being juggled.
And sometimes, there are simply too many balls in the air and I don’t have enough hands.
Last month, my oldest son had a baseball game. When I looked at the family schedule, I knew there was absolutely no way for my wife or me to transport him to the game. I contacted his coach’s wife and told her my son wouldn’t be able to go to the game.
Her response was simple and obvious: “Kelly, we can take Aidan.”
Except it hadn’t been obvious to me.
The thought of asking for help had never crossed my mind.
At the End of Ourselves
It rarely occurs to me to ask for help, in part because I’ve lived most of my life pretty independently—I’ve always just taken care of myself. But of course there is another reason, a deeper reason:
Asking for help is a vulnerable experience.
The request often comes from a place of neediness and insufficiency and dependency. It comes from the place at the end of ourselves—the place where we are no longer up to to the task. And this makes it a risky place—the place where we are most exposed and the most at risk of rejection. To ask for help in this place feels vulnerable, and it therefore requires courage.
There are many kinds of courage. Clearly, courage is the stuff of battlefields—the soldier on the first day of boot camp and the last day of his deployment. But courage isn’t limited to the battlefield.
Courage is all around us.
Courage is the shy little girl all alone at the bus stop. Courage is the boy on the playground who refuses to tease the kid in the tattered clothes. Courage is the ER doctor standing over a shredded body. Courage is a mother the day after she gets the diagnosis.
And the starkest, most breathtaking courage is the courage of vulnerability—revealing one’s true self to another and forsaking the carefully constructed false self we normally present to the world. This is why I’m convinced the waiting room of a therapy office is populated by the most courageous of souls—people who have, in one way or another, come to the end of themselves and are stepping into the vulnerability of a request for help.
At the Beginning of Ourselves
As a parent and a psychologist and a writer, there are too many balls in the air, and I don’t have enough hands.
And the truth is, this is very, very good. We all need to come to the end of ourselves. Because once there, we discover it isn’t really the end of ourselves. It’s the end of our false self—that carefully crafted image of competency and perfection we have erected in order to protect our true self—that part of us that is a complicated amalgam of mess and beauty, shame and glory.
When we are bowed low we come face to face with our true selves, and the truth becomes undeniable: we need help. The only question is: will we have the courage to ask for help, to seek a helper, to knock on the door of grace?
Will You Help Me?
Today, I want to be vulnerable and courageous. I want to ask for help.
And it really is hard to do. (I’ve deleted and re-inserted this section several times; I haven’t felt like this since I hit the publish button on my first post!) I think it feels vulnerable because I believe as a giver I am valuable, but a part of me questions my value if I’m an asker, a receiver. Many of you on the Facebook page expressed the same doubts.
So, deep breath.
For several months I’ve been juggling the many balls associated with self-publishing an eBook. And it’s official: The Marriage Manifesto is available for free to new email subscribers on the blog, and for a low price on Kindle and Nook. I think the book contains an important message and I hope the message will spread. That’s why I will continue to offer the book for free on the blog and why I’ve enabled sharing of the retail version.
But I realize, in this regard, I have now come to the end of myself: I can’t spread the message, only you can. So, from the end of myself, I guess I’m asking, “Will you help me? If you have read The Marriage Manifesto and you want the message to spread, too, will you fan the flame?”
And while I’m asking for help, I’m going to really exercise my courage and offer some specific ways for you to spread the message:
- If you are a blog subscriber, please feel free to attach your free PDF copy to an email and send it to friends and family who might enjoy it.
- Tell people about the book in the old-fashioned way: sitting in your living room with family or out to coffee with a friend. Direct them to the blog to get their own free copy.
- Go to The Marriage Manifesto webpage and share it in your favorite social media, using the social sharing icons at the bottom of the webpage.
- Give The Marriage Manifesto a review on Amazon. Amazon is such a centralized marketplace that customer reviews of a product there have a powerful authority, even when you aren’t planning to purchase from Amazon. Your honest feedback there matters.
One last thing: please know that you will be just as worthy in my eyes if, for instance, this request yields zero ratings on Amazon versus a thousand. In fact, I’m already deeply grateful for your encouraging feedback about the book and the ways you have already begun to spread the message around your kitchen tables and by email and in your social media circles.
The truth is, it just feels good to be courageous and to ask for help. Scary and good.
Courage is messy, isn’t it?
QUESTIONS: Asking for help can be daunting. Are there things you need help with that you have kept to yourself? Who could you ask for help? Even more specifically, what are your questions about how to begin the process of psychotherapy? If we have enough responses (i.e., questions), I will post soon with my answers to those questions. You can ask your question in the comments section at the bottom of this post.