Bear with me. Keep reading. I go from topics like pressure cookers, cat-poop boxes, and escort services, to Facebook, rock climbing and Hot Dave. But I swear, it all ties together somehow.
Ever had those times in your life? I’ll bet you have, especially if you’re reading our blog because of your pending divorce or the breakup of your marriage. You’re probably like a pressure cooker and if you explode you might actually kill someone, whether by accident or on purpose.
Get the hell out of town before that comes to fruition.
I did that this weekend. I got out of town. While I’m over the breakup of my marriage and our amicable divorce is wonderful now, I still have those moments of needing to slather myself in a vat of Calgon.
You KNOW you loved this commercial growing up. Take a look:
Grading papers, financially strained from being a poor graduate student, school and kids’ schedules, broken clothes washer, over-filled cat poop box, being single but desiring a fulfilling relationship, awaiting word on my future job contract, blah blah blah. These can all cause me massive turmoil, even though I tend to be a “glass half full” kind of gal.
So I ran. I ran the hell out of town as fast as I could… to wine country. No, I didn’t go in order to wine taste and eat at The French Laundry. I literally needed to get out of town so I could be away from everything that might cause me to procrastinate about the things that really need to get done.
All of this I did… for free. I’m broke, remember?
The only thing I had to do was ask. So, per usual, I put an APB out on Facebook, playing all kinds of pity cards sarcastically, asking someone (in their kindness) to give me a place to stay out of town where I couldn’t be distracted with socializing or procrastinating the things that really needed to get done ASAP (my grading, primarily).
When I ask for something or express myself to someone that requires a yes or no answer, I have learned to accept the outcome. I remind myself: What’s the worst that can happen? They say “no?” I suppose they could reject me completely, but at least I know that they aren’t worth my time if that happens.
Here’s what I posted on The Book of Faces this last Monday: I’m about to play some pity cards. Cancer survivor, single mom, struggling grad school student, hard-working teacher, end of the year grading… and general stress. Ok. So, hopefully that will help you to see my need for the following: Looking for a place to spend the weekend, for free; also free of people, distractions in general; maybe Tahoe, maybe not. Hell, I’ll even take Fallobama. I need to get away, detox my body, eat healthy, exercise, grade papers, sleep when I need to, study for my own tests. Please be thinking about it and if you know someone who can take pity on poor poor pitiful me, I would be eternally grateful. I can pay with bacon and good vibes.
The responses made me feel so loved. The worst thing that could happen (rejection), didn’t. Instead, I had offer upon offer of fabulous generosity.
My friends, Erin Rothfuss and her husband Brian, sacrificed their amazing guest house in wine country to me. How could I refuse?
I went by myself, even though I was tempted to call an escort service and hire some Joe-Schmo to act like he was my boyfriend. I’m not kidding, either. I’m broke, though, so I had to nix that idea. I also wouldn’t even know how to get a hold of a jiggalo if I really wanted to. Ewww. (Plus, I really did need to work so I figured that might distract me.)
Amazingly, I got the stuff done that needed to be done, which was the review and grading of my senior class research papers. It took me two full days of work to do it. It also took some amazing will power to accomplish this since I was in wine country. But I can look myself in the mirror on Monday and know that I gave my students my best effort. I wasn’t distracted with the rest of the stuff in my life and I couldn’t procrastinate like usual. I got things done. In WINE COUNTRY.
I really am Wonder Woman incarnate.
As I finished with my tasks, I knew I needed to release all of this pent up stress by writing. I needed to write and encourage people because that is what fills my emotional tank.
I started thinking about how awesome it was that just by asking for help and not expecting a yes or a no (but leaving it up to the Universe to provide) has been a life-long lesson for me.
Then I had a memory flash through my noggin.
I was 17. I was in the San Juan mountains in Southern Colorado. I was strapped into a harness, looking like a pathetic diaper-wearing, insecure freak (those harnesses are seriously awkward looking in the buttock region). I was about to rock climb for the first – and last – time.
I have always been the type of person to volunteer first for everything. I suppose this is due to my own insecurities, ultimately. It is easier to get things over with instead of waiting around nervously, comparing myself to people who are braver or more confident than me. If I don’t go first I find myself being jealous of them (having finished with a project or presentation) where they can just sit around and relax, not having to think about being in the spotlight any longer… all because they had courage where I didn’t.
So, during my senior year backpacking trip, the day of our foray into hardcore rock climbing came up on our schedule.
I’d never rock climbed before, but I was athletic, strong and in shape. I figured, due to my propensity for volunteering first, I probably should set the example. Honestly, I was scared to death. I hate heights. I also hate having my ass as the center of attention. Which is exactly what I felt was the case with that ridiculous harness on.
But I did it anyway.
There was an “easy” and a “difficult” route to choose from. Because I volunteered, I chose the easy route. I figured it was the safest.
Meh. Not so much.
About three quarters of the way through my climb, I was feeling pretty damn accomplished. Then I got to the part of the “easy” route that was grossly misrepresented.
There is a reason why I am an English teacher and not a math teacher. I suck at geometry and numbers in general. But I know this much: the angle that was required for me to climb and hoist myself up toward the end of the “easy” route was not humanly possible.
In my pride and stubbornness, I refused to ask for help.
After about 30 minutes of my arms shaking, Tourette Syndrome moments, and seeing 12 people pass by me on my left side on the “difficult” route, my guide (Hot Dave) announced to everyone: “Um. Guys. This route is the difficult route. Sorry about that.”
I could have crapped my pants at this point, but my arse was still hanging out for everyone to see. I started to cry instead.
Hot Dave called down to me, which was only about 20 feet, and said: “Just let us help you.”
My pride wouldn’t let me.
“No! I can do it!” I was ashamed of myself. I’d always been able to work myself out of any predicament. Here I was, Tough Girl, Corn-Fed Iowa Blondie, unable to hoist myself 20 feet, trying to set the example that being brave and volunteering to do things first can really pay off.
After 10 more minutes of seeing my friends scurry up on my left side like Spiderman, it became too much for me. Hot Dave offered one more time: “Come on, Emily, it’s okay. You’re such a strong person, but you need help.”
So I gave in and let him and a couple other guys pull me up like deadweight. I was crying like a friggin’ baby once they plopped me down on the edge and I felt like plunging off the side of the cliff on purpose from shame because I was determined to get through my struggle on my own… but couldn’t.
For some reason, Hot Dave knew enough about me that he knew what I needed to hear. He discreetly whispered to me: “Emily, sometimes we think we can get through something on our own because we feel like it will make us a better person. But really, what we need, is to have others help carry us through those things. Everyone needs help sometimes.”
Hot Dave, I wish you were here right now to be my escort in wine country. You were hot, and seriously, you were really wise. And I’m pretty sure, based on my life, your words also make you an official soothsayer.
It’s true, isn’t it? Our pride makes us think we should go through the tough stuff alone so we don’t burden others. It’s our stuff to experience. We don’t want to be a bother to someone else. You know what? That’s Pride whispering to you, who is a big, fat liar.
Sometimes we need to let go of our pride and admit that we can’t do it alone. Ultimately, admitting that we need help is a sign of strength and confidence, not weakness.
So, here I am, venting to you. My life really is pretty awesome, but I still need a little help every once in awhile, probably more often than I like to admit.
Have you been trying to make it though your stuff, acting all tough, and not asking for the help you probably need? Stop acting so tough. Admit it. Everyone needs help sometimes. It took me four months before I told a soul after Devon’s Big Reveal. It was my pride that kept me from doing it. Having cancer and not asking for help was my M.O. a couple of years ago. I had to learn to be humble and actually ask for help and admit that I’m not as tough as I think I am.
Just ask. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone says “no?” Oh well. That’s not so bad. But what if they say “yes?”
You could probably use the help. Don’t be a pressure cooker or a champagne bottle. Ask for help before you explode. Get out of town.
Do it before you crap your pants in front of everyone. Thanks, Erin and Brian, for some awesome and much needed R & R. I got stuff done, got to relax with you, and didn’t have to spend a dime. The Universe is good. Thanks for helping me out.
For my valediction, here are some of the lyrics to the song by the Beatles, Help.
When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me.