“You need to learn how to accept help,” my friend Jane told me back in 2011 when I was packing up the home my family was leaving after 27 years. She had barged into my house uninvited, thank God, her arms full of boxes, intent on helping me through one of the most difficult times of my life.
As a Southern woman I was taught that asking for help showed weakness. “The word ‘weak’ will never define me,” became my mantra, my mother being the poster child for an independent and self-sufficient woman. “Be your own person. Never depend on a man!” I can clearly remember her saying as a woman raised in a generation of suppressed women. At age 29, with two babies in tow, she up and moved her family to a third-world country. And although she did it to follow my father’s career, she made a mark of her own in a society that was completely foreign to her.
Later, after my father lost a business, she got herself a job during the day and at night went back to college to earn a degree, and then a Masters. When widowed at age 53, she picked up the pieces of her life and forged ahead. Independent till the night she died, my mother defied anyone who tried to help her. Her independent nature certainly made life easier on my sister and me and others around her, but I’m sad she missed out on all the care so many were willing to give her.
Asking for help was also an imposition, I would also believe until a friend once asked, “You sure love helping people. Why don’t you allow others that same joy?” That all made sense, but it was still hard to implement.
This all leads me to share what happened just this week. I enrolled in a literary conference in New York, one that gives me an opportunity to present my manuscript to an agent I’d love to work with. After signing up for a meeting with her, I reviewed my author’s platform (my website, social media and email list) and immediately felt it needed better numbers. Before I could talk myself out of it, I posted a plea for help on Facebook. Within 24 hours almost 250 people shared my plea on their Facebook pages, added their names to my email list, and liked my social media channels, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Old friends from high school and college left me encouraging notes in Messenger and in email. One friend offered her New York home for a launch party, another offered to review my proposal, another to host me as their book club speaker. Countless others offered their moral support. And by the way, many of these folks I’ve never met. I am humbled beyond belief by the generosity.
All this to say, “I’ve learned my lesson, friends. You guys are pretty amazing.”
Thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.