I Asked for Help

It Felt so Gross

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Years ago, while my husband and I were hiking with several other couples, we came to a patch where the snowmelt crossed the trail, leaving a wide swath of mud. As the couples approached, I watched each husband leap over first, then reach for his wife’s hand as she followed. Some needed the help, some didn’t. But ability wasn’t the point. The point was the offer. It said, “I’m here if you need me.”

Pretty normal, right? We like to keep ankles unbroken and butts mud-free. But me, I didn’t even look for my husband. I knew he was well ahead of me. I knew he’d leapt that puddle without looking back.

It wasn’t until I watched this particular norm unfold on the trail that I realized: my husband and I aren’t normal. Of course not. My husband and I are both middle children. Which means that I understand his independence as well as he understands mine. I don’t ask for permission. I don’t wait for a helping hand. I don’t want help. I accomplish things. All. By. My. Self.

Except, I know I don’t. I’m a decently evolved human being. I understand that were it not for hundreds, thousands, millions of other people who’ve gone before me, I wouldn’t have accomplished even a hundredth, thousandth, millionth of what I’ve done.

I have help. I need help. I must ask for help.

I hate it, anyway.

But here’s the stick: I have writing goals that I can’t accomplish on my own. I need people. I need readers and cheerleaders and critics. Right now, I have hundreds. I need thousands.

So I wrote those hundreds of people and asked for help. Now I sit. In a pool of my own sweat gnawing my fingernails gone while the voice in my head mocks me.

Ehw! I can’t believe you think you’re that special.

I holler back.

I didn’t say I was special. I didn’t even say I was normal. I just said I needed help. I said IF they feel like helping, here’s how.

Then I get extra clever.

That’s not gross. You’re gross.

Then I wonder if I’ve grown up at all.

But, I must have, right? I asked for help. That counts for something. Doesn’t it?

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Gretchen Anthony is a Minnesota-based writer and essayist. More at GretchenAnthony.com.

Every heart matters.