[Once again, I apologize for not posting in a long time. Things with school and at home have been quite busy, as some of you know.]
I was listening to NPR on my way back to my apartment a few weeks ago. The host was interviewing someone who was talking about her disability.
The young woman being interviewed had some sort of progressive nervous system disorder, perhaps multiple sclerosis. The woman was married and seemed to be in her thirties. She described different scenarios caused by her disability, such as how there were times that she was so weak, her husband had to literally drag her up the stairs to bed.
Then she got on the topic of asking for help. She said how it was so embarrassing—so disheartening—to have to ask someone for some assistance. She did not like it at all when she had to ask for help or when someone asked if she needed help. Getting help from someone else was a crutch, in both the literal and figurative sense. She described it as something that breaks her spirit. She seemed to be speaking on behalf of people with disabilities, and she contended that having to rely on someone else to help you with something you previously were able to do was something that would destroy your morale. Your strength. Your character.
I have heard about people in wheelchairs not liking it when they are offered help. I mean, we can do things. Some find it offensive that others think we are unable to do simple things like get into a car or open doors on our own.
I can see why other people with disabilities are upset about this, but I don’t really agree with it.
I actually really appreciate it when people ask me if I need help with something. If someone who doesn't know me walks by without offering help while I am putting my chair into my car, I am kind of surprised. I almost always kindly smile and kindly decline help anyways, but I do appreciate offers. It continues to show me how there are so many kind-hearted people in this world. I made previous posts about these sort of actions here and here.
I was telling a friend the other day how seeing a guy in a wheelchair brings out the hometown hero in people. Even the roughest guys who look like they would attack you if you looked at them the wrong way turn into Southern gentleman as they open doors and ask me how I am doing.
Do I get offended when people offer to do things for me? Am I ashamed to ask people for help?
In short: no.
Admittedly, it was hard for me to ask people for things at first. Even now, I do not really ask people for everyday things. I mean, I get by pretty well living on my own.
But sometimes I do not hesitate to ask strangers or friends for help. In fact, I actually enjoy it. Let me explain myself before you think I crave power and like watching other people do things for me.
I’m sure most people have felt pleasure and an increase in their own self worth when they go out of their way to help others. Even people who don’t normally like doing thing for others feel a sense of accomplishment as they subconsciously tell themselves that they used their “precious time” to help someone “inferior” or “unworthy” of their time.
So I let people help me. If I am about to do something and someone offers to help me, I usually smile and decline, but I sometimes smile and show my utmost appreciation. I want people to walk away feeling like they did something positive that day.
Many times it seems like we decline help or refuse to ask for help because our own ego gets in the way. “No, I got it. I can do this on my own.” How many times have we said that? I know I say it all the time. But perhaps we need to spread some love and some good feelings around and let people help us. We shouldn't take advantage of anyone, but we need to let people know that they can help people; that they have something—some talent, strength, piece of knowledge, or connection—that we do not have.
Let others know that they are worth it, that they can do some things better, faster or more efficiently than us, and that sometimes we need them.
They need that, too.
[This just touched the tip of what I have really been thinking about lately. A second installment will come soon.]