I’m told that asking for help is one of the strongest things that a person can do. There is a strength in the vulnerability that comes from admitting that you can’t do something by yourself. It’s an indication that you’re not perfect… not the self-sufficient island of invincibility that you’d like to think you are.
It feels impossible.
Over the last few months, I’ve had the urge to cut off my hands during therapy. I know that this is about wanting to reach out for help, and not being able to do so. It’s about punishing those parts of myself who want to reach out. It’s about not allowing weakness.
I learned early on in life that weakness was not acceptable, and made life difficult. Any sign of weakness could be used against me. If I was scared of something, then I could be taunted with it. If something hurt, then it could be prodded. I was confused by being hurt by people that, five minutes earlier, had been laughing and teasing me. All of this meant that I saw my only option as being to draw inward, and showing no outward sign of vulnerability. I was often called stuck-up while I was growing up, mainly because I did everything possible to keep myself separate from those around me. I didn’t think that I was better than anyone else, I just didn’t trust anyone (including myself); so my only protection was to withdraw and project a veneer of invincibility.
That veneer of invincibility is now being threatened. There’s a needy part of me wanting to reach out to others for help. But that is being resisted. I’m showing more signs of dysfunctional coping. I’ve withdrawn any meaningful communication with everyone. I’m having to take medication every morning, just to face the prospect of work. I’ve withdrawn as much contact with people as is possible. All I’m doing, is trying to fly under the radar.
This is the contradiction that I’m living with – needing to fly under the radar, which by definition, means being self-sufficient and invisible; and parts of me needing help.
One is seen by society as being strong; the other weak.
One has kept me alive for the last 30 odd years; the other is what led to so much pain in the past, that I don’t know if I can go there again.
Even if I wanted to ask for help, I don’t think that I know how to do so. The stumbling efforts that I’ve made towards asking for help, have been a disaster. I’ve sent emails which have been misread and caused more pain. I’ve called crisis lines, and not been able to communicate how badly I’m coping, or ended up in the Police holding cells. I’ve gone online to talk to friends, but ended up being unsafe instead. So I obviously don’t know how to ask for, or accept, help. I don’t know what positive help looks like, and I’ve lost all sense of safety.
But, I’m still turning up to work everyday. I’m still playing the game.
Now playing: Adele – Rolling In The Deep