I spent the weekend with my best friends from high school. Well, part of the weekend. And I almost didn’t go at all.
We’ve been trying to get together for years but it’s never happened for a variety of reasons. So we finally planned this weekend. Two days at the Jersey Shore. Just us. Just hanging out. Just having fun.
But at the last minute I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sure I could make it. I certainly didn’t think I could drive there. I felt so torn. Wanting to be there. Not thinking I could be there. And thinking I had to suck it up and somehow make it there on my own, or simply blow off the weekend.
Instead I took a different route. I told my friends what was going on and how I was feeling. I admitted that I didn’t know if I could make the drive. And that I wasn’t sure I felt well enough to come. Then one of my friends offered to come get me. And take me home. To drive hours out of her way, either Friday night or Saturday morning if that worked better for me, so that I could be with them and I didn’t have to drive when I didn’t think I could. And they assured me we could sit inside all day and rest, if that was what I needed.
The “old me” probably wouldn’t have let her. The old me probably wouldn’t have admitted that I didn’t feel okay. The old me would have soldiered through and figured out how to handle it on my own. The “new me” felt a little weird, but entirely grateful to my friend for her what felt like extreme act of love and kindness. Sure I would have done the same for her, or anyone I cared about, but it was hard to let her take care of me. And boy did she.
I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and she writes about the “myth of self-sufficiency.” She writes:
“One of our greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on ‘going it alone.’ Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who help’ and ‘those who need help.’ The truth is that we are both.”
By admitting to my friends that I needed help – that I wasn’t okay – I gave them the opportunity to step in and help me. The “old me” would have thought I had to be strong and not need help. By allowing my friend to help me – and to take care of me – I gave all of us the gift of being together, and I gave myself the gift of realizing that it’s not only fine to lean on others, it’s a good thing and a human thing.