I can do it on my own

My mom once told me that I was already saying it when I was 2 years-old : chus capable toute seule. Je suis capable de le faire toute seule. I can do it on my own. By myself or alone.

I didn’t ask for help when it was time to go to the doctor’s, the psychiatrist or the psychologist. I didn’t ask for help when it was time to shop for home insurance, for clothes, for a gym membership. I didn’t ask for help when it was time to go job hunting, to prepare for interviews, to go to the library, to go to work or school at -40 celsius, to apply for a loan. I didn’t ask for help when it was time to go to the police, to court, to the hospital for operations. And if I had had my say in it, I would have gone alone to the abortion clinic.

I didn’t ask for help. The one time I tried, I was 19 and couldn’t stop crying. My boyfriend had dumped me and I was hysterical. Don’t think shy wallflower shedding a few tears silently. Think massive hysteria, sobbing, dropping to the floor, screaming, head pounding on the wall. I’m not exaggerating. I called a suicidal helpline. I wa sin distress, I wanted to kill myself (seriously). The woman clearly thought I was exaggerating and asked me how much time we had been together. When I told her two years, she said « oh ». As in « ah, I thought it might be two weeks ». Anyway, I learned my lesson. If you couldn’t get help from people on the phone, who were there for it, might as well do it on my own. As usual.

I can do it on my own. That’s all there is to it. And if it’s something I hate doing like taxes, I pay someone to do it and I don’t need to befriend the person, I don,t need a relationship. I just make a request, fill forms, pay and voilà. It is as lonely as it seems but I didn’t see it this way until…never. I see it now but I don’t feel lonely.

However, I have learned that people around me want me to ask for their help. They want to feel useful, needed. They want to be there. And I’m so damn independent. I push them away.

I’m not a feeble woman and I’m an adult. Why would I ask for help ? I’m intelligent, resourceful, strong.

I don’t want help carrying my bags, to open the door, to get that plate on a high shelf. But I say yes when my boyfriend wants to do it for me. It makes him feel needed and he feels good.

The best example of what I learned about all of this is when it’s time to look at my bobo, to change the dressing or to get my socks on. My bobo is on my backside. I can use the mirror, I can stretch to change my dressing myself and I can put my socks on myself even if it takes 5 minutes. But my boyfriend can help me and everything takes less time, it’s less painful. To change my dressing, I just have to lie there while he does it. And he’s so gentle, I don’t feel a thing.

I feel relieved to have someone there for me even if I have to ask for help. I feel a bit disconcerted too. I still don’t feel like I need help. But my boyfriend smiles and is proud to be the one I ask pancakes from, to be the one that helps me with my bobo, my socks, my bags.

And the reason why I started asking for help is that I have friends who never requested my help or didn’t call with worries. I want to be there for them and I felt I wasn’t allowed to be the best friend I could be. I realized it’s what I had been doing so I decided to change things.

Terry Elisabeth, Québécoise et bilingue

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