Don't Be Ashamed to Ask for Help

by Celena Gill

Being a woman is hard. And being a black woman is harder. I grew up in a household where I was molded into being an independent, well-educated, self-sufficient, and self-sustaining woman. To my mother, a husband was not of much use. Her own father was abusive and controlling. She then left her father’s house and went straight into her husband’s home.

My own father had personal issues that superseded the needs of my family for most of my childhood. My mother never actually verbalized that I didn’t need a man, but that was how the message was received. It even extended beyond not asking for or needing a man’s help. I don’t remember my mom asking anyone for help—friends, family, or otherwise. If she did, I never witnessed her doing so. It seemed like it was shameful to ask for help. Because of this, my mom specifically chose to live a few towns away from most of her family—but not too far away to visit. I don’t know why, but it seemed shameful to ask for help. The unofficial motto of our family was, “You got yourself there, you need to get yourself out.”

That worked for me for a few years into adulthood, but quite frankly, it all came crashing down after I had my first son. I was a single mother living away from home with new friends, a new job, and a new community. I got to the point where I couldn’t manage everything by myself. My job, my home environment, and my personal life were suffering. 

 When I began to realize that I couldn’t do it all on my own, I began to reach out to my personal circle for help. I didn’t form hands with my girlfriends and sing “Kumbaya,” but I did begin to ask one person at a time for assistance. It took me a while to decode what was happening in my life. Why wouldn’t I ask for help or why did it take a near breakdown before I threw out the white flag? I examined my life and came out with a few reasons why I had so much difficulty asking for help.

1. Patterns

There was an established pattern of silence in my household. An active environment of, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” If we were in need, it was no one’s business. If we needed food, money, clothing, basic necessities—and we didn’t have them—we would just have to go without. It’s not as if my parents didn’t have anyone to ask for help; they just refused to ask. I learned from them to suffer in silence.

Lesson: Generational patterns that are destructive may completely hinder your growth. In order to evolve into your ideal self, you will need support and guidance from those who have experience and wisdom. Asking for help may be a new tradition, but it is one that will serve you and others well in the long run. It is serving me awesomely so far.

2. Perception

I think that my parents didn’t want to seem weak and helpless. I inherited this fear of being judged and would do everything possible to not appear vulnerable. As a result, it was hard for me to ask for help. I also felt like I was letting myself down. My identity was completely wrapped up in being an independent and successful woman. My ego risked damage by opening the flood gates to let the cavalry come in and rescue me. When I finally reached my breaking point, my instinct wrestled control from my ego and allowed me to open my mouth and cry out for help.

Lesson: Others’ opinions of me should be, for the most part, unimportant. If I allow other’s opinions of me to determine or influence my choices, I risk diminishing my own potential by hiding under their false beliefs about me. The only way that you can unleash and break free from living a substitute life is to completely abandon the beliefs that cause you fear, anxiety, and pain. Until you stop living in other people’s smallness, you will never be great.

3. Pride

You know that saying, “Pride goeth before the fall?” 

 In the course of my childhood, I developed a wall of pride that I masked as confidence. I didn’t realize that my sassiness and “snap-ability” was not the appropriate response to my situation. It was an “over” response. I chose fear over love, because I was scared of rejection. I created a story in my head that I could not let anyone in because they may hurt or reject me. I let the hurt in the past continue to hurt me in the present, as if it were still happening.

Lesson: A trauma from the past may have created misery then, but it should only be a memory now. Allowing others “in” doesn’t mean that I have to let all of me “out.” Everyone shouldn’t have access to my heart, but I can use my experience to discern someone’s place in my life without shutting them out completely (but will do so if absolutely necessary for my mental welfare).

4. Processes

Regardless of what anyone says, we all learn by what we see, not by what is said to us. Our family and community traditions, or processes, shape our own behaviors in our public and private lives. I grew up in a household where my father continually demeaned my mother verbally and emotionally. 

As a result, I developed behaviors that either attracted abusers or victims. This meant I also became the aggressor or the victim. It varied in each relationship. I ended up blaming men because of my own father’s behavior AND felt that it was my burden as a black woman to never be truly happy in relationships. Once I stepped back and took a serious look at why my relationships always failed, I realized that my process of choosing a mate, responding to a mate, and emotionally connecting with a mate didn’t support what I truly needed and desired: honest intimacy, truthful interactions, and love beyond looks.

Lesson: Instead of blaming my father and my mates for my failed relationships, I had to look at what I did to promote or invite unhealthy behavior. I had to radically change how I processed information and the processes in my relationships. Until you take a serious look in the mirror and detail what you do to stifle your success in any area of your life, there is no room to blame others. Check out your own behavior before you check someone else’s behavior.

The biggest lesson that I want you to take away is that you don’t have to carry your mate, husband, children, job, extended family, or society on your shoulders. Once I dumped those burdens off of my back, I was able to live my divine purpose. And I have never looked back.

Photo: Deposit Photos

Celena Gill is an empowerment coach and a bliss expert. She specializes in helping women recover from their past, uncover their fears, and discover their bliss. She pushes women to find their purpose, passion, and prospects!

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