GROW Community

The Give and Take of Helping a Friend

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
05/13/19  8:50 AM PST
Give and Take

I’m a junkie for personality tests. I know my Enneagram, Big 5, and Myers-Briggs types, and what all of it means. I also know that one of my strongest personality traits is self-sufficiency. Taking care of myself and not depending on anyone is a dominant characteristic of my personality. I am also the parent of a child with complex developmental and medical needs, though bound and determined, pretty much from the womb, to do all things in my own power and without help. Even when I am desperate for help, I don’t want it, I hate it, and I’d rather eat the gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe than accept a sincere offer.

Not only is it not my thing, our society highly prizes autonomy and personal accountability. If you’re struggling you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, try harder. For those of us raised to overcome, accepting help is admitting failure. I’ve learned to accept help, but I haven’t gotten much better at it. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and often humiliating. The only thing worse is declining help and falling flat on my face (something I’ve done more than I like to admit). And that’s why I’ve learned to acquiesce instead of decline the offers of help that I get.

I’ve also learned along the way that the delivery can make it easier, and much harder, to accept help. Allowing a friend to grant you kindness feels conspicuous. When the person cares so much that they want to shower you with love, it can feel overwhelming. I find it easiest to deal with kindness given in secret rather than overtly. A simple note, an item left on the porch, an emailed or snail mailed gift or gift card tell me a friend cares but allows me time to wrap my mind around the humbling experience before responding, rather than an in-person action putting me on the spot. When giving we want to make our blessing grandiose but in recieving, subtlety wins out.

Asking is a whole other level. It takes desperation to move me to ask for help, so when I get to that level, getting shot down is devastating. Thus, when someone in honest need asks for help I never decline completely. If possible, I meet the need as closely as possible to the request. When that isn’t manageable, I do what I can, knowing the willingness and effort are as beneficial as fulfilling the request.

Whether I want to swallow my pride and accept, or even ask for help is a mute point anyway. I have a family to consider; children who need the benefit of healthy, happy, and well-supported parents in order to thrive. When I consider it that way, it no longer matters whether it’s uncomfortable or even humiliating to allow others who care to provide kindness. If it enriches the lives of those who matter most to me, I’ve learned to deal with my awkward feelings and welcome offers large and small. When I get past my pride and move on to gratitude, we all win.

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook


Post Comment