It all started with my son turning 7. We moved into a new house and he decided to forego his firetruck bed and requested a big boy loft style bed so he could have a secret fort below. We ventured down to the local IKEA and through the maze of showroom madness…after consuming some Swedish meatballs, of course. We identify our target and head down to the aisles of boxes.
Oh, dang! This thing doesn’t come in many pieces, so the boxes are large and flat. No worries. I’ve opened up boxes in the parking lot and just crammed all the pieces into my little Jetta aka Gabriella before. I ask him to help hold the flat cart still as I muscle the two boxes on. After straightening myself out, we head to pay and then load. There was a family on the elevator and the dad helped me get the cart off as the wheels were catching on the elevator as I tried to muscle it out.
I then spent the next 100 yards using my full body to steer this out-of-balance mess to my car. As I approached, I knew I would have to crack these boxes open and play a round of Tetris to get this bed home. I get the seats adjusted only to find that there is no one these parts are going in. I started sweating more and more as bystanders walked by and passive-aggressively stared at my stubbornness to fit a loft bunk bed into VW Jetta.
I asked some friends for help, but no one was availalbe. I started to play the blame game. Why didn’t I plan this better? I could’ve come down with a truck and done this in one trip. Now I have to pack this box back up and haul this mess back in, hoping they’ll let me come get it tomorrow. Why did I waste time in this way? Why do I try to do everything on my own? I’m tired of doing everything on my own. People saying they’ll be there, but it’s all lip service. The stinkin’ thinkin’ and self-judgement were in full effect.
So, skip to the next day. I rent a truck from Home Depot. I bought the bed on sale, so I figured that with the truck rental, I was just back up to the normal price. I muscle that thing back outside and a woman, who sees me clearly struggling, comes over and helps me steer the heap and then load it. She jokes about how she always tries to do everything on her own and then asks if I have help to unload it at home. I lie.
“Yup, I sure do have help. Thank you, ma’am!”
I get home and nearly throw out my back trying to unload it, then I get to take the truck all the way back to Home Depot. This little bed adventure has now cost me hours of time, but I feel success!
The time comes to assemble this beast. I open the manual only to see a picture of a man and a woman assembling this bed together. Say what? Now IKEA is telling me I need help! A-ha! Logan is home. I ask him to come and hold one end as I start to screw together the opposite end. Thirty seconds in and he says, “I wish Corey were here. This is hard.” I’m full-on annoyed at this point and tell him he’s free to go and play.
I spend the next hour wrestling this thing. It’s a loft bed, so the pieces are taller than I and require strength to balance, while trying to align screws. As I start to finish, Logan walks by and says, “WOW!”
YES! Success! I did this all by myself. As I start to put the sheets on, I realize that I didn’t need to do it on my own. I own that part of me is afraid to ask for help, because I take it personally when people don’t show up. I also have these expectations that certain people will show up in my life and they don’t. I’ll be struggling through something and ask for help from someone close, only to be blown off or for them to always focus on their challenges. I keep showing up for them, because I want to treat them as I want to be treated, but my voice starts to get quieter and quieter. I start turning to them less and less. I start to equate my value with their level of interest or ability to hear me.
This started as a pattern stemming from my experience with mental health challenges. Some people are capable of offering solid help and holding space for these scenarios. Some people expect you to bounce back and get over it. Once again, no right or wrong, but it’s important to know what you need and what is healthy support vs. just allowing anybody into your life at these times. I have created a pattern of isolation, because it FEELS easier. This is my little safety illusion. I can have a rough experience and just want to curl up with my someone close to me, but there needs to be communication along with that person having the capacity to hold unconditional love and space for you.
I’ve decided to stop and ask myself what value I can find in this recurring pattern? I am getting offended because people aren’t showing up in a way that I expect them to. This is an opportunity to get clear on my love languages. I can get clear on who I consider to be my 4-5 solid relationships in my life. It doesn’t mean that some relationships are greater or lesser than, but just that each has a purpose on this journey. The slots rotate. People come and go. I also realize that everyone isn’t capable of showing up in the way I expect them to. They might show love in a different way or don’t have a lot of experience in relationships that don’t revolve around them or someone who has invested so much energy into them out of a place of love.
If I’m really coming from a place of love, I feel it’s important to do so unconditionally. If we show up for someone with the expectation that they’ll treat us the same way or that they’ll show up at all in the same fashion, we are choosing to put our power in other’s hands. We are also missing out on experiencing giving for the sake of giving. Of course, I’m not saying that we need to continue pouring ourselves into people who don’t show up, but merely that it’s our responsibility to not wager our happiness on how someone receives and returns an act of love.
So, speak up! Ask and you shall receive. If you ask and don’t receive, you have a choice to speak up and try again or you can choose to walk. Neither is right nor wrong. It’s all about claiming our power and choosing our own path!
Affirmation: I speak up and ask for help. I view reactions to my request as an opportunity to reassess my own value and where I’m choosing to invest my love.