You know that feeling when the alarm goes off at whatever-dark-thirty, you reach over to turn it off, and every muscle in your body protests? Or maybe it’s your throat which feels like it turned into sandpaper overnight. Or your voice has dropped an octave and breathing feels like how Darth Vader sounds. Sometimes you’ve simply run out of oomph and the fumes you were running on have disappeared. You know that feeling.
Yup, that one.
Most days you just power through whatever aches your body normally carries. The constant twinge in your back, or the arthritic beginnings in your fingers, maybe a sore ankle from a decades old break or sprain, the hip that grinds away at your energy, a shoulder strain that needs surgery which you’re resisting; these are simply daily companions you’ve grown accustomed to, right?
You go through your ritual of stretching, steaming the aches awake in the shower, taking some over the counter mostly-placebo. And of course, mentally, whether you know it or not, you give yourself the pep talk, the “people are counting on me” speech, the everything-will-go-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket if I’m not there reminder.
Then you go, and you do. Whatever. It. Takes.
You get through it. You do it.
But some mornings, life throws on a few extra weights, like a cold, or the flu, or simply utter exhaustion from doing The Thing You Do day in and day out without ever really regrouping.
The Thing You Do: running a business, being the mom, school or college, caring giving to a loved one, training, employment, volunteering, being the dad, driving the kids, getting to an appointment, attending an event, the endless list. It’s probably not just The Thing singular, it’s probably plural. In fact, it’s rare if it’s one Thing.
Somedays you gotta call it done before you ever get out of bed. But you can’t. Because you’re the only parent. You’re the only caregiver. You’re the ONE everyone counts on.
So you drag yourself to the shower, drag yourself through the pain, take a little more over the counter whatever might help and chase it down with extra caffeine and hope your can get through until it’s okay to call it bedtime.
If you have a back up person to call, now is the time to call them. If you can call in sick, this would be the day for that. If you don’t have any backup then you power on unending Netflix streaming for the littles and leave cereal and sippy cups out on the table and attempt to sleep on the couch or floor between requests for every little thing. It’s a sad picture of you with kleenex stuffed up your nostrils and the mangy robe wrapped around your aching, worn down, sleep-deprived body.
Now is a great time for prayer. And tears. Tears are good and cleansing and cathartic. Crying while praying can help a lot. Or it can make your nose clog up even more and maybe give you a bad headache to add to the other crud you’re dealing with. And then you might end up feeling mad at God for not healing you instantly and maybe even blame him for feeling worse. Don’t do that part. That is not helpful.
If someone asks the unanswerable question: “Is there anything I can do to help?” don’t you dare answer with that wimpy, ridiculous reply: “Oh, I’m fine. I can handle this myself.”
That’s just nonsense.
Tell them, “Yes, as a matter of fact there is something you can do to help!!”
Pick something. Anything.
- Wash, dry and fold a load of laundry? Yes, please.
- Bring over a steaming pot of some delicious soup? Absolutely.
- Chocolate? Of course.
- Vacuum the floors? Amen.
- Wash up the dishes? Bless you for your offer to help me.
- Do a grocery run for a few basics? Wonderful.
- Babysit the kids for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep? What a saint.
- Take out the garbage? Hallelujah!
- Stay with this person while I take a time out? Glorious.
I’m sure you could add other things you wish a lovely house elf or sparkly fairy or magical unicorn would swoop in and take care of.
Other human beings are the real elves, fairies and unicorns of our lives.
We should all have a list like that already made up for the inevitable day that LIFE hits the fan and the blowback is too much to handle. In fact, we could have each to-do item written on a card, like an emergency contact, and ask the semi-committed volunteer to select a card. Then you’re not even really asking but merely fulfilling their wish to be helpful. Is that an amazing plan, or what?
Not that I’d do that. Ever.
I hate asking for or needing help. I just want to be an independent island nation, completely self-sufficient and proud. Letting people help me makes me feel like a loser.
Right? Isn’t that why we say, “I’m fine, I don’t need anything,” even though we’re hanging on by our fingernails to the last frayed end of the rope with the wick of the candle burnt all the way through from both ends to the middle? (pick your metaphor)
But I’m not a loser if I need help. I’m just a human. And so are you.
Don’t you sometimes offer to help someone if they need something and they answer with that silly “Oh, I’m fine” nonsense? Don’t you wish they’d actually let you help? You don’t think they’re a loser, do you? Nope.
Photo by Liz Lawley.
If you hit that wall. If you can’t do another freaking day of The Thing without a break, a rest, a respite, a me-day, a mental health break, then dang it, ask for help from wherever you need to. Call in, step away, turn off the phone, text, email, voice in your head. Take a day for you, to heal, to rest, to be.
I give you permission. The universe gives you permission. Actually, you don’t really need permission. Just take care of yourself and let others help take care of you, even if it’s just you venting to them about the weight on your shoulders and in your heart.
Just skip doing The Thing You Do for one day. Just rest.
Best wishes from a fellow human who occasionally needs people and rest just like you.
Now I’m off to do The Thing I Do until the day I can’t.