Thoughts on vulnerability

The greatest honor my father ever bestowed on anyone was to ask them for help. Daddy didn't ask for help often, and if he did ask it was only because:

  1. He trusted that person to do a good job.
  2. He trusted that person to be honor their word.
  3. He trusted that person not to weaponize the request.

And he would never, never, ever ever ask anyone to do something he wasn't willing to do himself.

Have you ever had someone take your vulnerability and turn it around on you like a knife? Where you feel bad that you ever needed help to begin with? Where your heart sinks and your eyes burn and you wish from the depths of your soul that you'd just kept your stupid mouth shut rather than admitting that you were lacking in any way whatsoever?

I don't know who taught my daddy that lesson, but he knew it by heart. And while he never used that kind of malignant magnanimity on us, he just didn't ask for help. Would not.

As kids we learned that "helping" is something you volunteer to do for people you care about, because it is the right thing.

Not because they asked you to.

It's why I often just 'randomly' up and volunteer to do things for people that they never asked for or expected. I think sometimes that weirds people right out, because they have the expectation that I want something in exchange.

I don't.

It's just that I've learned to see the signs that someone's struggling, even when they put on a brave face. And I was taught to look around, see where the slack is, and how you can pick it up.

If you're like me, once you get older you also learn a million different ways to make it seem like everything's fine, when really you're falling to pieces inside. You get that metaphorical slap to the face when people you trusted to support you turn things around and make you feel like a fool.

And you figure out that the 'got it all together' facade protects your dignity as much as it keeps social expectations in place.

All of that to say... I wish I'd helped Daddy more, somehow, while he was still with us.

And I wish I knew who or what taught him how dangerous it is to ask for help, so I could punch them in the face.