This past weekend, I was a guest panelist at ConCarolinas. It was a wonderful weekend, and desperately needed. Struggling with my health and trying to focus on self care has been very isolating and insular – and it was nice to be among so many of my friends and just feel mostly “normal.”
Repeatedly I was told: “Let me know if I can help!”
Firstly, let me tell you how very much all the love and care means. Words can not describe how much I cherish my friends and all the kind people who made a point to stop by and say hi when then saw me. My cheeks literally hurt from the huge smile that was on my face all weekend.
Secondly, let me share what a quandary that phrase can cause in one’s life. When a tragedy or illness happens, the natural instinct can often be to armadillo – curl up in a ball, try to build a armored fort around ourselves, and not let any more bad in. Of course, doing the fetal position also means closing yourself off from those who may want to help. And even though to the outsider, it may seem illogical; being sick or having a death or tragedy in the family can often make you feel vulnerable, and imperfect, and honestly, as weird as it sounds, embarrassed.
A voice in your head says,
“I am incapable of taking care of myself and staying healthy. I’m a failure.“
“People have their own problems to deal with, why do I assume they need to help with mine?”
Again, I’m not saying this is rational. But for many of us, it is real. So then comes along, “Let me know if I can help!” And it stalemates us. Sometimes, “let me know if I can help” is a little like: “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” It’s what you are supposed to say when tragedy strikes. It’s what is polite, and at a time when words seem necessary, it’s what you say when you don’t know what to say. Trust me, I’ve done it too.
Asking for help can be the hardest thing to do during a crisis. Thinking up a way for someone to help is just overwhelming. Sometimes it’s the embarrassment of admitting you need help (duh, yes, I know, I need help – but to ask for it – shudder). The world is swirling around you and it takes all your focus to navigate through it, let alone delegate for it. Other times, you don’t know what someone is actually prepared or able to do, and you don’t want to ask them something out of their reach and feel even worse. Once in a while, when you finally know you need help – all you hear is crickets. People get busy, and forget, or don’t see the post on social media, or have their own stuff, etc., etc. Again, I understand all of that.
So here, because you have all been so kind, are the ways that I can honestly say, “help me with this.”
How You Can Help Joey
- Sign up on my CareCalendar. My amazing friend Kim set up a CareCalendar for me where people can sign up to bring meals, sit with me to give my mom a break, and schedule visits. The security code is 8275.
- Check on my mom and my husband. The honest truth is, I’ll be getting a lot of attention at the hospital, and hopefully an appropriate amount of sleep and pain-relieving medications. They will not. Make sure they are getting out and getting rest. Bring them food.
Once I’m home, check to see if they need help picking up things at the store, getting yard work done, talking to a non-sick person (haha). They are going to need to be able to vent without feeling guilty, and you will be easier for them to vent to than I will.
- Visit me for a little while. For the next 2 months, assume I won’t be traveling far unless there is a doctor’s appointment. But you know I love people. So come visit – for a little while. Short visits are best. No matter how long I ask you to stay, an hour is probably the outside amount of time I can handle to be social. But don’t just drop by – check in with my mom and husband first (their info is on the CareCalendar if you don’t have it.)
- Cards are good, phone calls and texts are harder. I love hearing from folks and looking at your messages. But replying requires brain, and my brain gets tired easily these days. If you want to check on me, that is awesome – but probably it would be better to do it through my mom and husband for a while. But text me pictures and funny faces.
- Help my causes. If you know me, you know I’m passionate about #supportlocal. But I’m not going to have the energy I usually put into those causes for a while. So instead of flowers, donate to the Geek Gala or help spread the word. Share all the wonderful Muggles Market Spotlight articles that Wanda dutifully posts every Monday. Tell your friends to buy tickets to the Geek Gala or donate items to the Geeky Goody baskets. (C’mon, would it even be me if I didn’t work this in somehow?)
No matter what, thank you for being here. For reading my posts, sharing your comments and thoughts, and all your supportive words. Please don’t take my observation on “Let me know if I can help!” as ungrateful. I’m not – in fact, it’s just the opposite. However, knowing you mean the best, I’m hoping I can empower you with tangible ways to help. You are awesome.