Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yours For The Asking

How difficult it is, to ask for what one wants.

Herself has a firmly-ingrained abhorrence for asking anyone for anything.  She has always worked carefully to avoid inconveniencing or upsetting others.   She remembers that even as a small child she would deliberately refrain from speaking up about her wants.  She would remain silent even if her siblings mentioned their preferences about even the smallest of things, such as the selection of a vegetable for dinner, lest she create extra work for someone or cause someone else to be unhappy with her choice.  (There were a lot of log-shaped green beans -- her brother's favorite -- throughout her youth.)  She would not ask to attend a school function if it meant that someone would have go out of their way to drive her there.  She would not mention feeling unwell until she was sick enough to require bed rest.  She would not ask for any of the clothing that was popular amongst her peers, for that would mean that one of her parents would have to take her shopping and, worse yet, spend money on her. One of the most difficult questions was, "What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?" Egads.

She was a very quiet child.

She is still much the same way today.  Much of her aversion to the telephone stems from a fear that she may somehow interrupt or inconvenience the person whom she is calling.  She puts the Offsprings' and her Beloved's needs ahead of her own even if it is to her own detriment, always. She remains silent when a relative criticizes, lest she wound the feelings of that relative by speaking back.  She does not daydream about what things she would like to have; she considers that a waste of time and energy since she will only very rarely spend money on herself -- it could be better spent on others.  She does not ask for help except under dire circumstances.  She is most comfortable functioning within these self-imposed parameters.

Underneath it all, though, there is a slow and quiet evolution. Over the past few years, Herself has begun to realize that she is allowed to want. Her needs do count. Perhaps, occasionally, it is appropriate for her to speak up for herself. 

She works hard to anticipate and meet the needs of other people.  I'm sure she errs on occasion, but she tries. Very hard indeed.  Nevertheless, after much analysis she has determined that not everyone does -- or can -- do the same.  Humanity is not telepathic, nor even always empathetic, nor do people (including herself) often understand all the little eccentricities, motivations, and driving forces in even those with whom they are close.  Other people cannot meet her desires unless and until she shows them what they are.

Her needs are not often complex:  usually, they are basics such as a need to get enough uninterrupted sleep.  Occasionally, she would like to have a calm and helpful person step in and handle matters during the rare moment when she feels too exhausted, upset, or ill to take care of matters herself.  Yet because she so seldom asks anyone for assistance, it is impossible for those around her to ascertain when she is close to her breaking point.   

Therein lies the greatest difficulty.  She must learn to ask.  It goes against every fibre of her being to do so.  Yet it must be done. 

She has begun to try.  It no doubt surprises everyone around her when she states what she would like another person to do.  So unexpected!  She evaluates at length before making any request to ensure that it is in fact a reasonable one. She does her best to choose her words carefully, too, so that people will understand that her statements are not a criticism of them, but an explanation of her own particular needs.   She knows that her requests might be met with a "no," and she understands that she cannot take such refusals personally.  It is difficult. She is learning.

She would do well to remember that the asking and giving of help go hand-in-hand, always. Fewer things bring her greater happiness than to help others; perhaps, occasionally, she should offer someone she loves the opportunity for such a happiness for themselves.  It could be wonderful.

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.  - Ric Ocasek

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