Last week I had the opportunity to listen to a young mother who lives in NYC struggle with the holiday season... As a single mother, she is overwhelmed by her two young boys, 6 years and 8 years old. They aren't listening to her, they aren't helping out at home, and they sure is hell aren't behaving. Hmmmmm.
I listened to this woman with every ounce of my being and heard her pain. She talked of her sister looking down on her because she hadn't gotten her nails done in three months, hadn't kept up with her hair appointments, and let's not even begin to talk about proper sleep. This woman is a rock star in public. She's a radio personality who's on billboards and practically famous in the city. People see her and think, "Yeah, she's got it all together." This is the same woman who sat speechless during our session after she described to me her home environment where she feels as though she has no peace, no rest, and cannot seem to get a handle on what to do. At one point she described a room of her house as a dump because she keeps throwing everything in there to clean up the other rooms of the house and she won't even look in that room. Unfortunately, she's been doing this for the last two years and now that particular room is the picture of hoarders gone wild. What to do?
After she had a moment of silence, I asked her what would happen if her and the boys tackled the room together? Instantly she said, "no way, they wouldn't do that."
"What if you asked a neighbor to take the boys for an afternoon (or several) so that you could tackle the room yourself?"
"I'm afraid I would get lost in there and never come out. And besides, I don't want to bother them with my problems. They are so busy too." she replied.
"Is there someone you could ask for help?" I gently asked.
There was a long silence. The wheels of this woman's mind were turning and creaking, emotions bubbling up to the surface and I saw her eyes begin to water. She looked up to the ceiling, eyes searching for an escape, not wanting to feel what was inside, She shook her head several times. I waited, not saying a word, holding the weight of this moment with her and giving her the opportunity to feel all of it without leaving her to do it alone.
"Carolyne, I don't know how to ask for help. I just realized, I'm not asking for help. Why?"
We both took a deep breath in and sat with that for a moment. Not asking for help leads to quicksand and despair. Most people think asking for help is a sign of weakness, when in reality, it is the polar opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is a confidence that you are worth enough to get support from others. You are worth their time, their effort, and their help. You are worth it.
This young mother cried softly on the other side of the country. I couldn't hug her like I wanted to. I merely sat with her while she wiped her tears and looked up to the ceiling trying to process all that just transpired. I waited patiently for her to respond.
"I could ask my sister to help me. She's always been there for me." she said.
"Yes, you could. When can you do that?" I asked.
"I will ask her tomorrow."
During this time of holiday cheer when all seems bright and bubbly, when over indulgence of so much creates overwhelm, over scheduling ourselves, over pleasing, fear of missing out (FOMO) and the worst in my opinion, loneliness, let's remember to ask... Ask for help with the cooking, the shopping, the preparations. Ask and ye shall receive. Isn't that some old saying that still resonates to this day. Asking for something gives the other person a chance to give... And we all want that. Asking for help is strength in knowing that we all are here for each other. Experiment with asking for support for the rest of December. I promise, it will be the best gift you can give. :)