Accepting Help and Receiving Kindness
I wrote last week about how the inaction and silence of others can be deafening. The opposite is also true. When help is offered and the offer is followed up on, it can leave you speechless, humbled, and grateful.
And those who step up to help often are not whom we might expect. At least that’s been my experience.
Last December, I made the tough decision to close the print shop I’d owned for less than 18 months. I bought the shop at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when my myasthenia gravis (MG) was being better managed. But last August, I had my first myasthenic crisis, which resulted in me being in a special care unit (SCU) for a week. I realized I was asking too much of my body and had pushed it beyond its breaking point. I was unable to recover and decided to close the shop.
Soon after, my tribe started to show its true colors.
Opening the curtain
I’ve always been open about my health struggles so that I might help someone else avoid feeling alone. After my stay in the SCU, I began to be even more open to my customers about what I was going through. I needed them to understand why there were delays in getting their work out, and that my team and I were doing the best we could.
As open and vulnerable as I thought I’d been until then, I soon realized I could be even more open about what I was going through. The customers who become my friends on social media began to see me, and how much of myself I had invested in the shop and in serving their needs.
Friends and colleagues began showing up after I opened up to them. I became the recipient of some fun Secret Santa gifting that was unexpected and hard to accept.
When you’re always the one offering help, it can be difficult to be the one getting it. It can make you feel uncomfortable, but also humble and grateful. My husband and I received anonymous holiday cards with gift certificates and vouchers, and when we both came down with COVID-19 in the middle of January, people went grocery shopping for us, brought homemade goodies to our house, made us meals, and stepped in and up in ways that we never could have imagined or asked for. We didn’t ask for anything, but help arrived in droves.
It was — and still is — hard for me to accept help. I’m not sure which is more difficult, asking for help and not getting it, or not asking for help and getting it. Both feel like hard pills to swallow.
The help we get when we don’t ask for it can sometimes feel like it was given because people felt sorry for us. In order for me to be OK about accepting help, I had to remind myself how good it feels to be able to help a friend or loved one when they are in a bind. Helping someone makes us feel good. And in a time when we all need a reason to feel good and smile, accepting help from someone is the least we can do to help spread those good vibes.
Finding our tribe
As with anything, people come and go, based on our needs and theirs. Sometimes, the people we once thought would always be there for us when we needed them most can be the greatest disappointments in their absence.
But there will also be people who surprise us. Who show up to beat the drum for us when we can’t do it ourselves, and who encourage us to run, walk, or crawl to our own unique beat. There are people who expect us to reach out to them when they are at their most unreachable, and those who lie down in front of us and meet us where we are.
Our tribe will change, the support we receive will change, and we will change. We should always be willing and humble enough to accept the gifts we’re being given by whatever way our tribe gives them.
MG is a hard disease to live with, but one of the greatest gifts MG has given me has been to learn to accept. To accept life as it is, and to accept help in whatever unique way it’s being given, through whatever “love language” the giver speaks it.
This life we live is like a river, “ever changing as it flows.”
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