I don’t know how to accept help. I never have. My face twists outwardly at the offer of having someone’s hand to hold. I’ve always been this way, not knowing how to accept compliments, not knowing how to accept the fact that there are actually people who care about me.
Because here’s the thing—on the outside, I’ve made it look like I’m the person who doesn’t need anything. I’m the person who has it all together. I’ve worked tirelessly to build up this facade, brick by brick.
There has always been a disconnect between the longing I have for a deeper connection and the action it requires to make that connection. When you’re hurting, you desperately want someone to see you. But it’s nearly impossible for someone to see your pain when all you’ve ever known is how to “hold your own.”
I think somewhere along the way I inadvertently convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone.
It was after the times I reached out as a young teenager for my self-harming tendencies and was scrutinized. It was after the multiple days inside of a psych ward I spent waiting for the phone to ring and hearing nothing, and then eventually giving up hope that they would call me. It was after repeatedly being told, whether through words or actions, that I was the only one I could ever count on.
I know it wasn’t my fault, but I still blame myself for not having the willpower to fight against my circumstances. For not having the strength to see beyond the hurt, that it wasn’t that I was unlovable. It was only that the people around me weren’t capable of giving me what I needed. They weren’t capable of loving me the way I needed to be loved.
But I always felt guilty. I hurt myself daily for years. I thought I deserved every red line that I made on my skin. I thought I didn’t deserve to get better, and would subconsciously sabotage my progress when I started making strides in therapy. My walls were continuously built higher and higher, to the point that it hurt more to break them down than to keep them standing.
I don’t know how to react when I hear the words “I’ve been thinking about you” or “I’m here if you need anything” or “I’m worried about you.”
I don’t know how to sit with the feeling that overwhelms me when I look into someone’s eyes and can tell that they truly care about me. Pushing people away is all I’ve ever known how to do.
I desperately want to lean into their gentle touch without going into fight or flight. I desperately want to speak my mind to someone, and I desperately want to have someone understand who I really am, and what my mind is actually like.
At the present moment, I am on the brink of one of the toughest things I have ever endured—an undiagnosed neurological condition. Accepting help at this point in my life is inevitable. I can’t drive myself to the store, sometimes I can’t hold my own drink, and I find myself needing to lean on people. Literally and figuratively.
It wasn’t until I heard the words “I don’t mind worrying about you” from someone I had come to trust and feel safe with, that I unraveled. The guilt I had felt my entire life, the crushing feeling that I was always a burden to everyone, started to dissipate.
Because I realized that, yes, I’ve gotten through some of the toughest moments of my life completely alone, but I don’t need to.
People care if you would just let them in.
It’s not easy shifting from saying, “I’m sorry for burdening you with this” to “Thank you for helping me carry this.” But it makes all the difference.
Ask for help. Someone will listen.
People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].