Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Asking for Help

First, thanks to everyone who wrote in with advice to 'take it easy!' after the last post. Your reminders help when I feel like a wimp for lying around all the time. Still, when I tune into my body, it's clear. Lots of rest = lots of energy + less pain. Being on my feet a lot and getting a lot done = more pain + needing to rest. As with most things it's not easy to find the perfect balance. 

My life changed drastically in 2006, when I split up with husband of 12 years, sold my dance and yoga studio and moved to Montreal. As part of re-inventing myself, I took on a gratitude practice. I tried to let go of my pride in giving, and embrace the value of receiving. I reciprocated thanks with 'you're welcome' instead of 'no problem' or 'sure'. I allowed friends to offer me help, whether a listening ear or a temporary home. I found my new practice humbling.

But Rome wasn't built in a day. In Montreal, I furnished my apartment with other people's castoffs, found on the street, at yard sales, and Craigslist. I bought an 8 foot wardrobe, made of large heavy pieces of pressed board held together by tiny pegs inserted in holes. I bought it unassembled, no instructions included. 

Earlier in the same week, I had mentally chided my roommate for moving in without asking me for assistance. Somehow I didn't see the irony of assembling the Ikea Beast solo, when she was just down the hall. I assumed she was busy doing something important, like watching TV.

I tried to put everything together in the right order, but really, it was a job for two people. Though I used all my limbs, lifted and counterbalanced, pushed and pulled, I couldn't quite piece the thing together. Then just when I thought I had it figured out, it all crashed down on top of me like an oversized house of cards. I peeked out from underneath a heap of boards to see my roommate in the doorway, one eyebrow raised eloquently. 

Fast forward to my present state, post-surgery, limping behind my walker. Some things I can manage just fine. I've perfected 'The Golfer's Reach', sliding my operated leg out behind me as I bend my left knee to pick something up off the floor. But keeping from going past 90 degrees of flexion at the hip is a challenge. I can't reach forward to pick up my tea from the coffee table. I can't take off my right sock, or put on my pants. Walking with a glass full of juice is a messy proposition.

But it seems that all the letting go I've been doing in the past years makes it easier to ask for help. Of course I am lucky that my partner is generous and accommodating. My stepkids are more willing than usual to lend a hand, especially for things I obviously can't do myself. My friends are sweet with gifts of food, flowers and time. I don't feel anyone looking down their nose at me, mentally suggesting that I could be doing things myself.

I'm revisiting humility, and finding it rather exhilarating. There's something profound in searching for the balance between caring for yourself, and allowing others to care for you. It's a new version of opening up to receiving, of giving others the gift of giving to me. I hope that when I am once again able to do everything myself I will continue the practice of balancing giving and receiving. 

Today's Quote:  “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” 
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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