Accepting Support and Sometimes Give Less – a tricky balance

For the first time in my life, I have been overwhelmed by specific distant family members or family friends offering to help me and not my dad, when I haven’t thought of asking for myself. At first I felt guilty for receiving help, it felt unnatural, afterall, it’s my father that needs caring, right? wrong. I’ve had to learn to, and still am, accept help from others who offer without asking, in order for me to better be there for my dad, and for my own well being. The emotional stress alone from having the responsibility I’ve taken on is great, more than I could have ever imagined. 

For those of you who do not know this, I am the sole guardian of my dad’s care, who has onset dementia and alzheimer’s and now a couple of other health issues that could be life threatening. I also am terrible at asking for help/support when it is of a personal nature, in not wanting to burden others. Don’t get me wrong, I am much better at it in other aspects, such as work, as it isn’t as emotionally personal based. 

As a cousin put it to me recently, “Don’t feel that is is improper in accepting other’s kindness, it is a virtue to offer people a chance to love you..” Wow. I grew up not receiving much help or being asked if I needed help from my parents. I was brought up to be self sufficient, and grew up mostly on my own and learned to take care of myself, somehow taught to be proud of self sufficiency over the ability to accept help.  Also, having lived mostly with my dad, who lacked the ability to express love, I can now see where in the problem possibly lies.

With recent events of being guardian to my aging father, I also had to learn to be more discerning about when and where to offer help to everyone, as I can over do it, at the expense of my own free time and self care. I’ve come to learn that what is deemed as selfish isn’t so, it’s my own skewed perception on myself, realizing it’s really more about self preservation and self care.  I always believed people do the best they can and not judge, but why is it hard to have this kindness and understanding for oneself? Why do so many of us have this complexity and issue with it?

I know I’m not alone in this, particularly with those that are also givers by nature. I know half the battle is just being aware of our own perspectives and noticing whether they are realistic expectations or not. By being more aware of this myself, I’m glad to think that I’m possibly half way there to finding a new balance of giving and receiving… keeping fingers crossed that it gets easier.

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