Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Do I Need Help?

Do I?

Well, yes, actually I probably do. Am I going to ask for that help?

Not on your sweet ass I'm not.

JoyT posted a really interesting blog yesterday about asking for help. She can't. Her husband does at the drop of a hat. Joy wants to know if the rest of us do. Or don't.

Rather than write an essay in Joy's comment box, I thought I'd try and sort this one out over here because this is a subject very close to my heart at the moment.

I have never been averse to asking for help. I've frequently had physical jobs in male-orientated environments (farming) and, whilst I've always pushed myself and done what I can, there have been times when I had to acknowledge my own limitations and ask for help. Though it pains me to say it, women are not always as physically strong as men, we're just not built that way – our strengths generally lie in other areas – but, as always, there are exceptions to that.

The ex-Himself was very good at doing stuff around the place – it's what he did for a living after all – and it was easier to ask him to do things. One of the reasons it was easier to ask him to do things was because if I tried to do things myself, there would be comments like "why are you doing it like that?" or "that won't work, let me do it" as the tools were taken out of my hands, or a wry smile and a shake of the head with "that" look. I gave up trying in the end, it wasn't worth getting worked up about.

The guys at work were also susceptible to a pathetic "girly" look and a plea for help. Getting them to do stuff for me was fun!

But since I've been on my own, I need to do things for myself. Because my cottage is owned by the company I work for, I can easily call on our Property Maintenance guy to do stuff for me, and my boss has said if I need anything just call in the Maintenance Team. But you know, these guys are busy already and I don't want to be seen to be getting special favours. When I mentioned I was going out to get a small chainsaw this weekend to cut my own logs for the fire, the boss gave me that despairing look and said "oh don't need to do that". Ditto when I go to collect the logs, "get the guys to help you" he always says to me. Why??

I need to do this stuff On. My. Own. I don't know if I have to prove something to other people or whether I have to prove something to myself. I'm guessing it's mostly the latter. It's not only an adjustment to single life but also a need to rebuild my confidence in my abilities after letting them sit and rust for so long. I may not be very good at doing some things and I'm learning a lot as I go along, but I get them done. The end result may not be pretty, but it's functional and does the job.

So, right now, I will not be asking for help. For anything. Even if it means cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Thank you very much for offering, it is appreciated, but I'm getting by on my own.


  1. I'm rubbish at accepting help, even when it's needed and offered.

    I strive to offer willingly and accept gracefully. But I'm still rubbish at it.

  2. I am very bad at asking for help. Even when I know I need it. Perhaps it's a throw back to my days as the only girl in a pack of boys and having to maintain equal footing or get run over, but asking for help is something I just don't do.

    However, if it is offered, I try to accept graciously. But it IS hard for me.

  3. It genuinely gives me a lot of pleasure doing things for other people and so why deprive others of the same pleasure? I would never let anyone do anything for me if I wasn't prepared to return it in anyway possible (with a few limitations!!). I see it as an exchange of skills as long as it isn't abused. It is so rewarding.

  4. Speaking as one with family 'in the trade' as it were - take care with the chainsaw - have you had training? Otherwise you might be cutting off more than just your nose ...

  5. It's very difficult for me to ask for help. I think that there must be a happy middle ground somewhere. I'm not sure that I will ever find it.

  6. OK, I think I've been hanging out with little ones too much.

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I can't help but think that you are like a pre-schooler figuring out that there are so many things that you can do all by yourself. You don't need anyone else to do things for you! And that's a good thing. It shows that you are ready to grow and make your way independently in the world.

    Just remember to start accepting help again when you've proved you can do it all!

  7. Great post! Sounds like you're determined to be fiercely independent. Now. Be careful with that chainsaw! I used one once and it jumped when it hit a knot in the tree. That would be when my husband grabbed it out of my hands and took over. Gave me that same look and shook his head like you were talking about. And I can't tell you how much I HATE LOATHE DESPISE the 'look' and the shaking of the head.

  8. I hear ya..I grew up a farm girl with attitude..there an't nothing I can as a farmers wife..i still have My husband helps with what ever he can and seems to hate when I have done he puts it"shouldn't have" but it is a good feeling when I do things he thinks I "shouldn't have" on my own!! but I have to say"blinking" I won't attempt a flat tire of change oil..or anything like that..I will gladly hhave Grizzly work his muscles!! It is hard to ask for help...but sometimes I am so glas for the help!!!
    And in your new direction in life i wish you the best!!

  9. I'm very, very bad at asking for help most of the time. My problem is, I need help from the male of the species, usually & my experience with that breed tells me that you ask for help & they want sex as payment ~ honestly ~ I've had to fight men off me & had my ex-husband rape me because he hugged me after a friend of mine died... That doesn't aid the help-asking.

    Here, I've learnt, after fighting off the Irish settled men (from young lads to retired farmers ~ "single woman, must be desperate...")that if I need help then the Traveller Lads are the ones to go to & they'll help for washing done or eggs. My wandering friend has been through much of what I have with women in his life & so he is the safest man I've met here & I love working alongside him ~ he does what I can't & I do what I can. Major jobs, like renovation work or fencing & I call in the professionals.

    I've also learnt the hard way that I need a man to warn the chancers off ~ he doesn't have to exist in the way that they think, just drop enough hints to make them think that there is 1 & wandering friend fits the bill perfectly. I never state that a man lives with me ~ that could easily be disproved, just that I have 1. I wear a wedding ring (aunt's mother's) on my Russian wedding finger & invested in a 3-colour copper ring (in time for daughter's wedding) to use on my left hand as a deterent. Wearing a headkerchief does not work to tell them that I'm not available, but I still keep my head covered.

    Also, being disabled means that I have to prove to people that I CAN do things & that I CAN be fully independent.

    I do cheat & leave things on 1 side for my father to do, arguing that he needs things to do on the 2 occasions each year that he & Mum visit us, that way, both Dad & I keep our dignity ~ Dad doesn't have to play the social visitor & stay awake doing nothing & I get things done with no fuss or intense frustration on my part.

  10. Brilliant post AOJ. I imagine it will feel good being able to do certain things for yourself too like the wood chopping etc. I do think it's ok to ask for help, but I also think it's great to learn new things and build on your independence. I could do with doing that a bit more too.


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