May I help you? What a magical phrase! We hear it when struggling and instantly feel a level of relief. It tells us that:
- Someone sees we are struggling;
- Someone wants to help us;
- Someone respects our space;
If they add “How” or “What will help” or “I will stay here and help how you ask” then BINGO, we also know:
- Someone will listen to us;
- Someone will work with us to help!
I believe most of us were raised to help others. Many of our experiences even have us recognize others’ struggles quicker. For example, as a mother if I see a person alone pushing a stroller with a non-automatic door in their path I will help or alert someone to help with the door.
However, hitting all 5 points doesn’t always happen. Sometimes our struggle is ignored, seen as inconvenient, in the way, or even mocked. Sometimes our struggle is in a crowd. Sometimes our struggle is something we feel we must overcome by ourselves. Sometimes we have a hard time asking for help. Sometimes we don’t admit to ourselves we need help soon enough. Sometimes we are trying to be a little too independent or just get stuck. Being asked if we need help can be a wake up call. We all have boundaries.
Stairs are my nemesis. Specifically, stairs without railings OR any stairs when I have a wheeled walking aid. I can pull myself up stairs with a railing, ideally on the left. Nothing with wheels go up stairs without someone else’s help usually.
I have faced stairs where people I did not know decided for me how I was going to get up the stairs. Once, two people, each with their own idea decided to help me. Neither asked me anything. They grabbed hold of an arm each and were determined that I had no say. Boy were they put out when I politely but very firmly told them to let go. I then pulled myself up the stairs. My secret is that I had backup. He knew I could handle the situation but I knew he would step in if I asked. It really helps knowing someone has your back.
I have also faced stairs where I was asked what help I needed. The help needed varies. I have had someone strong carry me up the stairs. I have walked up the stairs while moving my wheeled assistance up also. I have had someone move my wheeled assistance up or down the steps. Having someone there waiting or participating makes for a calm, smooth, dignified transition.
I have had people insist I need help. I was determined to use a cane to get in a medical facility. A woman asked me in the parking lot if I needed help. I declined. She watched, came closer, and asked again. I declined again. She went in and sent security out with a wheelchair. I guess I was struggling more than I thought. I gave up and was wheeled to my appointment and then back to my car. I learned my lesson and do try to accept more offers for help.
Sometimes just knowing someone is there ready to help is just the thing to give me the confidence to get through the struggle!