'I'm not going to be here forever,' my pops cried to me. 'I just want the best for you and your sister. I just want to be your friend.'
We were stopped in a parking lot. He was frustrated because he couldn't read a map on the phone and we were lost.
We weren't really lost, simply not on the road he wanted to be on and he could only focus on going back instead of looking further down the road to see how the road we were on connected to where we wanted to go.
I wanted to hug him. I wanted him to know that it would be alright. We could take a breath and look at the map together and figure it out. He was impatient.
'Just turn around, I want to go back.' He was still crying.
My heart was breaking.
He isn't going to be here forever.
His words hurt. I realize how fortunate I am to still have my father. He is a fragile shell of the man I remember. I still walk on eggshells around him, except now I’m afraid that his transparent skin, and bones will break under the weight of asking him a question.
If he would only . . . he never would. I recognize in that moment the change comes from me, he is lost. He prides himself on his never changing ways, and is now crying because he can’t change and can’t figure out how to ask for help. He is a man. He is broken.
He is the man that I looked up to my entire childhood, and fear that I will become my entire adulthood. I love him.
‘Pops, ask me for help . . . we can look at the map together, figure this out together.’ Those words never left my mouth. I was quiet, outside of the car in Southern California, a plethora of taco shops sit in a strip mall. I was staying present to him. Saying anything at that moment would only get in the way of letting him let it out. Taking his frustration out on me.
‘This f^cking thing . . . You’re just like your mother . . . always with the f^cking . . . I never ask anything from anybody. I try to take care of everything myself!’
I’m a man now too. In this moment big enough to take his frustration and not fuel it. I recognize him for who he is and what his limits are. He continues, coughing and chocking as he yells. He is mad at himself and taking it out on me. Mad that he can’t change.
I don’t want him to change. The silly man accepts me for what and who I am. I accept him. I love this man.
Only in this moment, this moment he wishes he could be someone who could ask for help. His unbending ways have cracked exposing a vulnerable place my father protects. Like the old oak who has encountered a storm, he has broken instead of bending. It didn’t have to go this far.
Maybe it did have to go that far. Maybe he needed to break, maybe I needed to see him break, maybe I could have said something, maybe I’m an awful human being who pokes the bear to watch him get angry? Maybe I . . .
I have become him in many ways, and in many ways I have recognized his behaviors and have made changes. The changes I have made happen with painful awareness. Like in this moment.
He starts to cry. ‘I’m not going to be here forever . . .’
ASK FOR HELP . . .
Ask for help.
I have no problem offering help, and providing help, but asking for it . . . very difficult for me. My first profession, Registered Nurse . . . full of providing help for others, same with teaching the yogas. I love helping and seeing people succeed where they thought they were faced with an impossible wall.
When it comes to asking for help for myself, I would almost rather retard myself than ask for assistance. Looking like I don’t have it all under control, requiring assistance . . . these are not places I am comfortable within myself. I am the person people go to for help. Who do I go to for help?
My Pops is a great teacher. He makes it seem he has his shit together and takes care of everything on his own.
The secret of being an adult is unlearning it all.
I’m still developmentally delayed when it comes to asking for help. ‘Why can’t others recognize my struggle and offer to help?’ (Many awesome friends have done this already and, Guys I am so thankful! Thank you for offering your homes, food, friendships, and laughter!) The growth for me occurs when I have to reach out and ask for this assistance without it being offered.
Letting go of the idea that you are perfect, that you have your shit together, can be a large obstacle to rise up to. Most everyone I know wants to help, they offer opinions about everything. Listen to them. It doesn’t mean you have to respond to their advice or opinions, but it may help shine some light into an area you didn’t recognize before.
How can I practice asking for assistance without whining, without going to that place of breaking down and yelling to protect my vulnerability, without seeming desperate?
Practice asking yourself first ‘where is it that I can help others?’ and secondly recognize an area of your life that could use some assistance. Simply recognize it. Do nothing more than recognizing it for right now. As you become familiar (or intolerant) with this area, reach out. Ask for help.