I’m embarrassed that I need help with minor physical tasks. I’ve got an infection of the self sufficient Americana myth that seems to have taken root right in my very marrow. If you need something done you’d better do it yourself right?
When I was much sicker and undiagnosed two years ago, it felt easier to accept help because surely it must be temporary. There is no harm in needing help if you know you can pay it back tenfold? There is no harm in being unproductive for a time if you can pay it it back with interest.
But what will if can’t pay it back? What if I must rely on the kindness of others forever? Early on I struggled with little things like needing to use a wheelchair in the airport. I told myself stories like“I could walk if I just tried harder and accepted more pain” as I went through the concourse on the way to a hospital stay. I couldn’t pay back fellow travelers for slowing them down. And maybe no one minded that I was sparing myself pain for little inconvenience on their end. Perhaps I could accept small types of kindness.
But what if it’s not temporary? And what if it’s a significant amount of help! What if I do need help with basics for the rest of my life? Thanks to a recent trip my husband took I learned his running of the household increases my capacity by a full 30%. I could do everything just fine on my own but it would make my life much smaller. And it doesn’t seem to make his life any less enjoyable. On the contrary he shines when showing off his excellence in operational matters. It’s possible what I see as an undue burden is something he quite enjoys.
But I can’t quite convince myself it’s a good thing. The self audience myth has a deep hole on me. But if a third of my capacity disapates into tasks like cooking, cleaning, errands, and logistics but I’m enriched and energized by work like writing or working with the media then shouldn’t the choice be obvious?
And yet I still find myself embarrassed and angry about my limitations. . Why did it exhaust me so much to stand and wash lettuce? Or require so much rest to recover from a short run to the pharmacy. Those are small, albeit physical, tasks. My soul feels broken and my body a traitor with these small physical limits.
Whereas other pursuits can be done from bed. And even though it sometimes makes me sad it’s not always my choice, I don’t mind that my world is often limited to lying flat for hours on a mattress. I don’t resent it. In fact, it makes me rather happy. I’ve got the whole world available to me thanks to the internet. I can invest as easily in bed as from a fancy office. Twitter is just as good a connection to the networks of ideas and power as conferences or clubs. Better often.
The only part I resent is feeling like I’m a burden. Like I need to be waited on head and foot like some aristocrat or an ailing relative. Well not like an ailing relative. I am ailing. That part is the. But I can thrive in it with help. I just hope I’m not to embarrassed to take it.