I’ve found over the past few days that it is practically engrained in us to refuse help. We don’t want to be a bother. Don’t want anyone to have to go out of their way. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what exactly to do. We lean towards wanting to be polite without regard to what we really desire or expect and it usually ends in resentment.
I was discussing this with a close friend today and she said that it’s all a bunch of game playing that we do with ourselves. We talk ourselves into thinking that it’s the other person’s fault for not expressing what they really want when in fact, the fault is our own. If you know what the right thing is to do, then don’t ask the question(s). “Do you want me to come”, “Do you want me to stay”, “Do you want me to go”, etc.
When I first found out my father had a stroke, I didn’t know if I should go be by his side. I wanted to be there. I should’ve said “I’ll be right there”. I didn’t. I asked “Should I come”? As soon as I said it, I thought back to just a few weeks earlier when I’d been on the phone with him, asking if he wanted me to come for the holidays. We went through the same process. He wanted me to come but didn’t want me to bother with it. He wanted me to wait because he wanted to come see me in the spring as if it were a multiple choice selection (he could only have me visit him OR him visit me). He finally suggested that I wait to visit with the caveat that I could come if I really wanted to.
With so much wishy washyness going on, I figured he really didn’t want me to come so I booked a trip elsewhere. While traveling for that trip, I got the call that he’d had a stroke. Before being told of what had happened, I was asked if I was in a place that I could talk. I looked around the airport terminal and didn’t know how to answer so I didn’t. I stood in the middle of the isle not knowing what to do. It was suggested I sit down, so I did. Imagining what was about to be told to me, I backed up to a wall and slid down until I was squatted down on the floor.
I asked if I should come. He told me I didn’t have to. I was confused. A stroke was bad news. I heard the word paralysis and tried to comprehend what was going on. How could I not go? I was told he was fine. Fine? I looked around and saw people in the seating area of the airport looking at me. I was confused. I said that I needed to get to my destination before I could make arrangements to get to him. I was afraid I would never see my luggage again if I detoured mid-trip, during my layover. But in the time I was trying to comprehend what the hell was going on and what I was supposed to do, my partner had retrieved our bags and rebooked our flight.
I relayed that we were on our way and asked if perhaps my dad didn’t want me to come. It was too much and I broke down. I sobbed at the thought that my dad didn’t want me there. Thankfully, that was not the case and before long, I was on my way. After a long day of travel, I arrived at my dad’s bedside that evening. The first thing he said was “Thank you for coming”.
I learned from my friend today that it’s not about what others want sometimes. I knew what the right thing was to do and rather than questioning it, I should’ve just done it. I am going to go. No more questions.
Now to try and get that through to my dad. He says he’d like a shower and when a nurse comes in, he says it’s ok, he doesn’t need one right that minute thinking that he’s being a bother, so they leave. He gets mad after 10 minutes when they’ve not returned to give him one. We ring the nurse to set up a time. She asks what time and he says it doesn’t matter. He prefers his showers in the evening so when they give him one in the morning, he complains that he doesn’t get them at night. We request them at night and he says anytime is fine.
Now I know where I get it from. There are a lot of people out there that do this same thing. It’s not limited to parents. It encompasses friends, relatives, people in the store. It’s personal, mental game playing that has started to drive me crazy. I want to make a late New Year’s resolution to stop the games.