Reaching out, asking for help

One of the most awful traits/habits I have passed down to my children is my own difficulty in admitting I have issues and that I need help. From anyone. As I get older I am incrementally better about it, but it is still one of life’s more difficult things for me.

My daughter is struggling right now. While we are close and communicate regularly, I aim for a balance between being a concerned and loving mother of adult children and a controlling, overly involved mother of adult children. In their upbringing, my goal was happy, balanced, normal people capable of living independent and fulfilling lives. The relationship I had with my own mother/parents makes this undiscovered country for me, and I always hope and pray I am hitting the marks in the right sequence.

Until this afternoon (Saturday) I was unsure just how difficult a road she was traveling. Her fiance is a good man, and he was the one who reached out and confided his own difficulties with seeing her so unhappy/depressed, being careless with her medications for this condition, and generally not taking the best care of her overall health. Fiance A also started out telling me about his own struggles of late and consulting a mental health professional for assistance, who did advise him to let me know what is going on with C and how it is impacting him and their overall relationship. They are both under a realistic amount of stress between jobs and life, and I am very proud of A for taking the steps to care for himself as well as having the courage and trust to share his concerns about my daughter with me.

None of us lives in a vacuum, and I want no one I love to ever feel isolated or alone. Sometimes it’s just so hard to admit you’re struggling and need help, much less reach out and ask for assistance, especially when you’re not sure of what it is you actually want or need.

If the situation were reversed (and it has been me on many occasions), my internal dialog goes something like asking for help is pointless because (1) I don’t want to bother anyone with my trivial issues, (2) there is nothing anyone else can do to improve what is making me unhappy, (3) I am being silly and making mountains out of molehills, and (4) I am not important enough to deserve help.

The last is the biggie for me. Overcoming that to the degree I have has been huge.

I had been thinking about reaching out to C anyway, because I was concerned about her dissatisfaction with the work she is doing and the defeated air she exhibited last night. It was family dinner, though, and she did not want to bring up something so complex when we are all together and enjoying our time. When A reached out to ask me what I thought, I knew my instincts were correct.

The odd thing to me was I thought C looked stunning last night – very put together and relaxed. Just goes to show we are all capable of wearing our brave faces even when it’s completely unnecessary.

I have no magic bullets to share with C, but I am one of her biggest cheerleaders (nod to A) and can be a somewhat impartial ear. Yep, I have an agenda – I want to help her sharpen her focus, develop some plans and goals for changes that may lead to greater joy and peace in her life. Patience is a universal struggle in my bloodline, but I know my daughter and know she is like me in that having goals and plans to make them happen is empowering.

So we are meeting for lunch on Tuesday (today), and however much time she has and needs before/after her “on-call” shift starts at 2:30 is how much time we will spend talking about whatever is on her mind or crosses our pathways.

I am glad this is coming together, than she’s not in crisis and that perhaps she will feel better about things after talk. While I wish she did not let it go until she’s overwhelmed and at her stress limit, I also get the genetics and family dynamics of talking to each other when we’re simply struggling. This is a first generation of actually talking to each other period, and I will not whine about our shortfalls. We are building, we are better than me with my parents, and for that I am infinitely, eternally grateful.

It was Saturday when I began writing this post, and I was not sure if I would indeed post it. This is very personal and concerns an important member of my family, but the struggles we face individually and as a family are not unique to us. No matter what the issue or the dynamics that exist, it’s important we all have our individual voices be heard and someone we trust enough to speak with openly and share our anger, our frustration, our fears.

Today I am really thankful to be someone that my kids turn to without anxiety or fear of being judged.

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