There were tears, from the baby and me.
It was not a good time. But I was determined to be (what I now understand is an unattainable standard) a perfect mom, and that started with breastfeeding and not ever being the woman whose baby interrupted the church service with even the smallest squeak of noise.
I thought I was projecting an "I have it all together" air as I snuck out the back door of the sanctuary, but actually my imminent melt-down was visible to the people who knew me well.
I know this, because I overheard a friend talking to his wife and my husband after church that day, "She won't ask for help, but she definitely needs it."
She won't ask for help.
Was that me? You bet it was. Every single bit of it. I would do everything on my own, and it would be just fine - as long as you ignored those tears and the desperate look in my eyes.
In the months that followed, I remembered those words often. I was thankful for the offers of help that came my way, and I even managed to ask for help myself a couple of times. That might not seem like a lot of progress, but it really was for me.
Eleven years into the future, and I'm in a different place in my life. I'm parenting a tween now. I have different struggles and new lessons to learn. But I still think back to that hot summer day when I heard, "She won't ask for help."
Am I still that person? Not asking for help?
Some days I am. It is hard to know what to do in this life.
But I do know one thing for sure, even if I don't take my own advice when I should: I know there is nothing wrong with asking for help. It isn't weak. It isn't a sign of failure. It doesn't make you less than in any way. Because recognizing your need, and reaching out to have it met, is actually one of the strongest things you can do.
Today, I'm feeling very strong.
Which is why I can tell you honestly how much I need help every day.
Sometimes it is little things like realizing the sink is full of dishes and I won't be finished with work before it is time to make dinner. And sometimes it is issues that are much larger and more serious. But no matter the size of the problem, I am still learning to ask for help.
Help from the Lord. Help from my husband. Help from my daughter. Help from Google. Help from friends who walk similar paths. Help from believers who pray. Help from family and friends who love me unconditionally. Help from people who know more than me, and are willing to share that knowledge.
Help. I need it. Chances are, there are times you need it, too.
Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for that help. You are not alone.
- If you are in immediate crisis or struggling and need help, or you want to help a loved one, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
- If you are the victim of domestic violence and need help, or you want to help a loved one, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
- If you have been the victim of sexual assault and need help, or you want to help a loved one, you can contact RAINN or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
- If you suspect that a child is being abused, or if you are a child or teen who is being abused, you can contact Child Help or call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
- For more helpful resources, check out this Find Help resource list from To Write Love On Her Arms.