One morning I was outside my house talking to a man who was trying to fix a minor problem with the stone wall in my backyard. In talking about what was wrong with the wall, I started to cry. I have a thing about not crying in front of people so I was beyond embarrassed but I just couldn’t help myself. I apologized and explained that I was very stressed because of my mother and he said that everyone, including mothers, was entitled to be a little “loco” once in awhile. He was very sweet and ended up making me laugh.
Another day I got unreasonably upset and yelled in a business situation and it completely startled me. I apologized right away and explained that is wasn’t like me (which it isn’t) and before I could fully finish explaining that I was becoming my mother’s caregiver the other business woman cut me off and said she had gone through something similar, she totally understood and we would just put our heads together and solve the business problem together. It still amazes me how understanding people can be.
I have heard the statement “Ask for Help” many times in my life but didn’t know how to do that. It’s not really “my way.” My family tends to manage their own backyard…and I guess I have thought that applied to me too. So reaching out for help was a difficult thing for me to do.
I started by sharing a bit about my struggles concerning my mother with a girlfriend. It felt very uncomfortable at first. We began talking about the issues of the caretaker role since she is helping out her mom too. Talking to her became a huge support!
She encouraged me to reach out for my family. I didn’t want to do that but, ironically, one day my uncle reached out for me. I didn’t realize that he and my aunt were independently trying to help my mother too. We decided to get together for lunch to talk about the issues facing my mother and it was such a relief. To have them to talk to has made things much easier! I can’t believe how much it helps to be able to share all the difficulties with them. They have become a great support and I feel a closeness to them now in a way I didn’t before; it has been a gift.
Now that I was sharing with my family, I really wasn’t planning on sharing with anyone else. However, I realized that if my relatives who didn’t know me all that well could make me feel better, then it was ridiculous that I wasn’t telling my friends, who do know me. If I couldn’t tell them about my mother were they really my friends?
So, I began reaching out to my friends to let them know what I was going through. I wanted them to know why I wasn’t returning emails or calls in a timely fashion. It was a huge relief to admit I just couldn’t handle the pressure of everything.
Asking for help has been hard for me but it has made me feel better emotionally and I think it will go a long way to reducing my stress.
I am learning that we are all really in this together, that I don’t have to feel alone, and that I don’t have to be able to handle everything myself.
I encourage anyone reading this to ask for help. You may not be able to ask for a lot at first but, ironically, it’s my mom who has always said “Just start…you never know what will happen.”