Women are to a large extent completely capable of caring for themselves. We can figure out how to get those groceries, make a meal and get a load of clothes done … even when we are in pain. (Men, I know you can figure it out, too!)
However, we need to add one more thing to our plate. Yes, one more something that doesn’t have to be done daily but should be done on a regular basis. Ask for help opening the pickle jar!
Ask someone to help you open the pickle jar.
What are you talking about?
Let me break it down, bear with me, I promise this will make sense…
When you love someone who is in pain, you want to stop their suffering. Those of us living with chronic pain cannot be fixed. Give that person who worries a task to do for you if they ask how they can help? The opening of the proverbial pickle jar.
There are moms and dads, husbands and wives, kids and siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends… many people in your life who feel helpless and they really want to help. They want to ‘fix’ your pain but we know they can not. So we put on a happy face and pretend all is right with the world.
Then they catch us grimace, or see us catch our breath as the pain sears through us, and eventually, we pull away. Then they pull away. They can’t help, and we are tired of explaining this to them. We are just so tired!
So for those who are still in your life, the ones who are honestly trying to help, give them a way to help. Come up with a few ideas to include them in your life instead of excluding them.
It would really help me out if you could…
- Pick up a gallon of milk.
- Carry the laundry basket into the bedroom.
- Grab me a couple of notebooks the next time you are out.
- Help me purchase items for (…a hobby.)
- Send me some easy recipes for dinner.
- Stop by with some coffee from Starbucks.
- I need a few new puzzle books… color books… etc.
Think of things you can ask for when the people in your life want to help. Let them! Ask them! Show them that you do need their help. What are things you need? Ask for those things. Think about what you could use and be ready for requesting a task if you are asked.
When you are in a flare, it affects everyone in your household. How can you convey that although they cannot fix you, they can help? My husband knows when I flare to shave some ice cups for me and put them in the freezer. I may ask him to make some jello or do a load of clothes… sometimes just lower the blinds and bring me my pain pills! I could do all these things by myself, but he wants to help. So I ask him to help, and it feels nice to have him help me. AND … it just may help him to not feel so isolated when I am down with a flare.
If you have kids, and they want to help, convey they can by doing something for you. An errand, or a particular meal (or snack) that you have taught them to make. Same with close friends and loved ones, let them help in some way. It builds a bond and promotes inclusion into your world that can be so confusing to them, often isolating them from your life.
It took me so long to learn this lesson. Almost too long! I isolated myself for so many years I lost contact with many people who mean so much to me. I’m trying to rebuild bridges that I did not even know I had burned. Some will never be fixed. Some of those people I care about are forever lost to me now. If only I would have found a pickle jar for them to open, maybe they would still be in my life?
Ask for help, let them open the pickle jar.