I've always hated asking for help.
I hated asking my teachers for help when I was in school. I hated asking my parents for help with anything.
Once, while I was still in college, I moved from one apartment to another all by myself because I didn't feel like asking for help.
This is obviously a stupid approach to life. We all need help. We all need to ask for it. I've learned that lesson well enough—sometimes the hard way.
Just because I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's good to ask for help (and bad if I don't) doesn't mean I don't need to work pretty hard to force myself to do it. There are times when I just don't feel like talking about whatever it is I'm going through. There are times when I feel like I'm complaining or being a burden. There are times when I'd rather retreat into some form of solitude or isolation, or act like some quiet martyr whose call is to "man up" and suffer alone.
It happened even recently. This time, I felt like there was so much going on, I didn't have the energy to spell it all out for anyone. So I kept my mouth shut, went silent. Even when friends asked, I replied only in vague generalities or short, terse phrases like "It is what it is," or "I'll be fine/it's fine/everything's fine."
I'm lucky I have friends who call me on my junk. One of my best friends knew what I was pulling, that I was trying to lie low. After he poked and prodded a bit, he texted me this:
"You've been trying to be isolated lately. But the truth is..."
And he followed up immediately with this:
Mighty Ducks gif? Ten points.
Revealing a truth that I'm trying to hide? Fifty points.
He was right. I had to drop the Lone Ranger act.
So I started (and am presently continuing, by the way) a painful, exhausting process of forcing myself to call and message the guys in my circle and unload what's been on my mind.
Funny thing is, I always convince myself I'll be a burden, but one of my buddies, after I talked to him, actually thanked me for, as he put it, "sharing your crap."
There's a very simple action I have to remind myself to take when I've been knocked around a bit:
Talk to someone.
Simple, but so important.
If I find myself backing away from the people who care about me—if I'm clamming up, hesitant to talk, avoiding calls or texts, things like that—it's a red flag. And it's a red flag I have to address sooner rather than later. An unhealthy person avoids talking to other people when he or she is struggling. I've seen it again and again, with other people and with myself.
It's in those times, when I most don't want to do it, that I have to talk about it. Send a text. Make a call. Get together for a coffee or beer. Whatever it takes. Even if it's through gritted teeth (or fingers?), I need to talk.
Every single time I try to keep it all to myself, I'm worse off. Every single time I talk about it, I'm better for it.
So if anyone's looking for a formula for how to bounce back in a better, healthier way, there it is.
Talk about it. Bring someone else in. Ducks fly together.
This is the third post in a three-part series.
Basically, I had a crappy November, and I need to remind myself of the ways we can deal with adversity that make things better, not worse.