Lupus Life Lesson: Say Yes to Help. Say No to Toilet Water.

carie shermanBy Carie Sherman

I was at the store yesterday and noticed a woman struggling. She was literally strapped to one child and had two others dangling precariously from the red plastic car that doubles as a grocery cart and weapon of mass destruction. One child yanked packages of Oreos from a cardboard display while the other two howled.

The woman, clad in three-inch heels from what I can only assume was a long and arduous day at work, balanced on one foot while trying to juggle large containers of juice.

I offered to help.

She looked at me and smiled. Then she thanked me, refused, and kindly told me “she’s got it.”

And she totally did have it. Of that, I have no doubt. But in my mind, she didn’t need to “have it” alone.

I’m Glad I Got Sick, If Only for The Sweet Lessons

Getting sick has taught me more than a few lessons. But one of the best things I’ve learned is how to accept help.

I recall a time that I “had it” under control. My husband was on a much-deserved holiday weekend with friends. So it was Mommy-Daughter weekend. And I was going to show my almost two-year old the Best Time Ever. (Because, that’s what two-year-olds care about, in case you haven’t heard.)

That weekend will forever be in my memory. But not for the right reasons.

The Weekend of Mommy’s Worst Flare Ever and the Time the First Floor Flooded and the Baby Soaked Herself, the Dog, and Mom’s iPod in Nasty Toilet Water

I’d been sick for days. It took all of my strength just to get out of bed. But I was too proud to accept help. Help I was offered. Once when I picked up my daughter from the babysitter’s (who happens to be my dear friend) and another by my awesome mother-in-law. Then offered again and again in the form of many texts and phone calls as the weekend progressed.

I Can Barely Walk. Everything is Covered in Toilet Water. But No I Don’t Need Your Help.

Sure I “could” take care of my two year old and myself and my flooded floor. But would my daughter have had more fun playing with my friend? Yep. And would I have gotten some much needed rest and recovered faster had I let my wonderful mother-in-law take my daughter for a couple of hours? You betcha. And would my friend and/or my mother-in-law have felt delighted to have actually had an opportunity to help me? Absolutely.

We Made it To Sunday. Just Barely.

By the time my husband got home, I didn’t have the energy to order take-out. He wasn’t impressed. And neither were the people who had generously offered their help, when I told them the story later.

But I learned, boy did I learn: Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. People want to help. Even if it involves toilet water. Why? Because it makes them feel good.

I see people who, every stinkin’ day, take on the world–and for the most part, win. But I worry about their health and well-being.

When I’m feeling sorry for myself, I compare who I used to be with my new lupus-girl persona. Man, she was a go-getter. She did it all and didn’t need nothin’ from nobody. Help was the one four-letter word she refused to use.

God I miss her.

But I also remember how she felt on the inside. Alone. Scared of messing up. Scared that someone might catch on that she was not perfect, not even close to the facade she carefully constructed to hide her flaws.

Everyone–sick or not–expects way too much from themselves. For some reason, we’re not afraid to talk about these stresses. But we become invincible the moment someone says “how can I help?”

We say “aw, thanks.” Then, “I got it.” Followed by, “just talking about it helps.”

Meanwhile, our metaphorical toilets runneth over. And no amount of talking about the mess helps nearly as much as a friend armed with towels and bleach.

So we choose: Swallow our pride and give someone the supreme joy of helping another human being? Or say no, and risk drowning in our own nasty water.

I’ll say yes. And hope you do too.

Do you struggle with accepting help? Why or why not? Share in the comments below.

7 comments on “Lupus Life Lesson: Say Yes to Help. Say No to Toilet Water.

  1. Valerie Behounek on said:

    There is a lesson for everyone in this post. Even though I don’t have a chronic illness, some times “no I can handle it” comes out of my mouth even though I desperately could use the help. False pride? I think so.

    • Carie Sherman on said:

      Totally! Or we think we’re bothering someone. Or that they’ve got their own problems. Geesh. Silly creatures we humans are.

  2. Meaghan on said:

    I needed this today! Thanks Carie.

  3. Shannon Nichols on said:

    I thought I could do it all still, oh I was so wrong:) My cape wearing days are behind me, but I do realize I do not have to wear a cape any longer to do “super” things. I remember my newly diagnosed persona, she was a silly,silly girl! Learning how to pace myself has come hard to me and learning to accept help is even harder, I suppose I don’t want to appear weak or disappoint those I love. Lessons like yours are wonderful teachers,and sometimes very hard for us to learn:)

    • Ha– I love it! Cape-wearing. That’s awesome. I might have to steal that. :) Aren’t we silly sometimes? But honestly, sick or not, don’t you think so many people can really benefit from slowing down? I read an article recently about a group of four friends who, once a month, get together to tackle One Big Thing on their to-do list. They’ve cleaned basements, they’ve gone through deceased loved ones effects–things that can be so hard alone. But together, they get it done AND have fun. How cool is that?

  4. Beth Silverman Landau on said:

    I especially love how you mention your pre-lupus go-getter self. I miss mine, too. She could power through anything and was scared of nothing. I try very hard not to compare the two,but MAN that’s tough. Love your blog. I sometimes blog about lupus, right now about a prednisone taper, on my blog, too: bethlandau.com.

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