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Monday, July 28, 2008

Giving and Receiving

Our support group seems to have dwinded.... but, not exactly. Each meeting, only 5-6 women attend; however, each time it is different women. We seem to be fluctuate between 10 "regulars." (2 women seem to have dropped out).


The subject of this week's support group, "Giving and Receiving," could not have been more aptly timed. (to understand why, read my previous post)

"Which is more difficult," asked our group's facilitator, "and why?"

We give from a place of strenth; we are empowered by giving.

We receive from a place of weakness; receiving makes us feel "needy."

We prefer to be "givers" rather than "takers."

We have strong egos. We cling to our self-image of being "hakol yachol" (able to do anything).

Accepting help means accepting our inability to do that which we did before. We do not want to accept our limitations. So we resist.

We know:
* it takes strength to accept help
* we would be happy to help, so we should be happy to accept help
* we are giving other people the opporunity to do mitzvot (good deeds)
* by accepting their help, we are allowing the people who care about us to feel involved and useful

We also know that we really do need help.

We know all these things to be true. Yet, asking for help is one of the hardest things for us to do.

We are learning.

I am learning.

I have learned to keep lists. If someone offers to help me, I write it down. If I don't, I will forget who offered.

If I am out and about, I probably don't need help at that moment. But I will need help another time and it is easier to call someone who has already offered to help.

If someone offers a particular kind of help, I write that down too. Not everyone is willing to go shopping, pick up my kids, do my laundry, or help me clean my house... but some people are.

I am learning to be gracious. When someone helps me, whether solicited or not, I say "Thank you."

Rather than throwing out some sort of deprecating comment (choose any of the following: 1. "you shouldn't have...", 2. "it wasn't necessary..." 3. "we don't really need it..."), I express my appreciation: "Thank you for thinking of us", "That was helpful/thoughtful/kind," "I really appreciate your efforts."

Slowly, very slowly, I am learning not only to accept help, but also to ask for the help I need.

I am learning to say "Thank you. We don't really need 'that', but 'this' would be very helpful."

It's a process.

After I was diagnosed last summer, Moshe turned to me and said decisively: "You need to squelch your natural inclination and, every time someone offers to help, just say 'yes'!"

Who would have thought that saying "yes" could be so difficult?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


The Five + of Us said...

Wow, RivkA, what amazing timing. What a big piece, the process of changing your life-long approach, and whole identity, adding "receiver" to your long list of "Who am I?"

How I can relate to the independence thing... but I can only imagine some of the challenges it brings.



RivkA with a capital A said...

ALN -- thanks.

I've been thinking about what it means to be a "receiver" vs. a "taker"

Anonymous said...

RivkA: totally understand what you are saying. Learning to be gracious and accept help is one of the hardest lessons I have learned since I was diagnosed six years ago. I was always the one doing the helping, and to admit to needing help seems demoralizing and weak at first.

It took me quite some time to understand that the opportunity to help and do a mitzvah gave great pleasure to my friends. It is not weak, it is being strong to accept help.

My husband still has the greatest difficulty accepting help as he seems to feel that it implies that he couldn't do whatever it is for me.
But I am no longer allowed to drive, and I need people to help me get around - to the hospital for treatment - or just to buy a new dress. The 'girls' who help me actually enjoy these outings, and we try to turn them into fun. No one person could possibly do everything that I need doing, and my husband has been incredible in looking after me, and holding down a very full time responsible job. I just wish he too could accept help gracefully when it is generously and caringly offered!

RivkA with a capital A said...

anon -- I appreciate your comments so much.

I could write so much about husbands, help, and support....

You would have enjoyed the discussion in our support group.

Why are you not allowed to drive? My chemo dates usually drive me home, but I drive everywhere else. I can't imagine how challenging it must be to have to rely on friends for everything! (and I rely on friends for a lot!!)

I also try to make things entertaining for the friends who come with me. Most of the time, when we do things together, it is fun!

Some of the less fun activities sometimes fall by the wayside... and that's ok too (mostly).