About a month ago now I was really struggling with a lot of unpleasant feelings I didn’t know what to do with. I eventually pinned that down to a real lack of self-compassion on my part, and somehow even just recognizing that this was the source of a lot of my misery helped. I’m trying to pay a little more attention to that now. You don’t realize how bloody hard on yourself you are sometimes.
I also felt better when I got really compassionate responses from people after a particularly tough meeting. These included offers for coffee and support as I needed it. I still haven’t taken anyone up on those offers, even though I appreciated them. There’s still this thing inside me that doesn’t want to ask for or accept help. Which is stupid.
Okay. So What’s a Frosty?
I know some of my readers are outside of North America. So maybe you don’t have Wendy’s fast food restaurants there, and you wouldn’t know what they hell a Frosty is. Well it’s a yummy chocolate malt — soft serve in a cup, basically. Not that this matters in the slightest to my story. But just in case you were wondering.
No, the Frosty is not the point of the story. The thing is, I was walking from somewhere and it was just a particularly awesome moment for a Frosty. So I go in to Wendy’s to order it, and I’m all worked up like a five-year old, visibly, I’m sure. I reach into my giant Nerd Bag that come with me everywhere and… no wallet. Frantic search yields a few coins. By now I am radiating desperation and sadness. Again, probably like a five-year old.
So this young guy behind me says. “I’ll pay.” And what do I do? I demure. “Oh no. That’s okay,” is on the tip of my tongue. Then I thought about what enormous pleasure it’s given me in the past to help some random stranger out in a pinch. I swallowed my pride, and thanked him profusely. Because I realized in that moment that by refusing an offer of $2 from a stranger, I was depriving us both of one of those sweet, generous little connections with our fellow human beings that would leave us both just a little better off that day.
So I left with my Frosty, and some thoughts about offering and accepting help. An awful lot of us find fulfillment and purpose in caring for others, but we live in a society where asking for help has weird baggage associated with it. Maybe it’s easier to be on the “giving” end of kindness because it feels great, without the accompanying vulnerability that comes when you are on the “receiving” end. But maybe part of working toward a kinder world is also to willingly receive what is offered.
One thing I want to work on in the new year is asking for more help. There’s a ton of wisdom in my sobriety group — people who’ve been sober for a long time. There’s no formal sponsor system with the group because its not an AA group, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ask for some contact numbers, and ask some questions to get their advice. Baby steps, eh?