I like to think I am old and wise enough. Surely, for the people reading my texts, it might seem that way. I can easily come off as someone who has answers, if not many answers to the many problems we all face. Perhaps, I sometimes believe it myself. I end up believing I am that good. Then, something happens, and I get a stark reminder of how bad I am at something. Those much needed wake up calls are a gift from the heavens.

Thankfully, as time goes by, reality slaps me in the face and I remember I am a regular man. As I look at myself in the mirror, I am reminded I am filled with flaws, insecurities, qualities, and positive thoughts. I got the good and the bad in me, like every other human being walking this planet. The good saves us but the bad we carry in us, can easily stunt our growth and at the very worst, condemn us and derail our lives. If we don’t watch our bad side, we’d easily get lost and become a shell of ourselves.

As I do my introspection every now and then, I realize how far I have come. Nevertheless, I still have thousands of miles to go. That remaining voyage is a motivation in itself. I won’t lie though; sometimes I am tired. Sometimes, I am afraid. Sometimes I feel hopeless, and I get angry. Sometimes, I put so much effort in things I do, and they don’t pay off. It exasperates me to my very core but raising my blood pressure has never helped and never will. So, I grind my teeth, and I start over, with a ridiculously optimistic view that I will do better next time around. Sometimes, I do better. Sometimes I fail. And the cycle starts over again.

My biggest struggle is seeking help. I can only face the reality and admit it to myself. It pains me to say but hard truths are the best truths. I have trouble saying the words “I need help”, “Can you help me please?”. I write and talk all the time, I am eloquent, but those two sentences have a hard time rolling off my tongue. Isn’t that fascinating? The mouth cannot articulate something the brain hasn’t digested anyway. If the mind isn’t ready, the body will never be. If I don’t believe I need help, I will never say it. If I don’t admit it to myself, I will never say it.

Please understand, I don’t see those who seek help as weak or needy or failures or losers or idiots. I sincerely admire them. I admire the humility, the vulnerability, the honesty. I admire the analysis and clear realization they need help. I am in awe of people who seek help. It is a trait of character I admire and envy. Weirdly enough, there is nothing I love more than helping others. I see it as a noble calling, as the most basic humane thing to do. What could be more fulfilling than helping our fellow man or woman? I do my best to help people any chance I get.

Yet, whenever I need help, genuine help, because I can’t do something or because I can’t cope, I struggle with it. This might be the highest level of hypocrisy. It’s easy to help but it’s hard to ask for help. It doesn’t make sense and it irritates me. Frankly, I am to blame, no one else is. Shifting blame is another cowardly act I stay away from as best as I can. Therefore, I can only admit I am in a predicament. I am not saying I don’t ask for help, because I do. However, I often ask for help when the problem has already festered and turned into gangrene. The help does come but it fixes a bigger problem, which needn’t exist if it weren’t for my long silence and hesitation.

My vanity, my pride, my fears, my ego, my insecurities stop me from seeking help. Yes, I am afraid of appearing weak and needy. I don’t want to be a failure or a loser. These fears are based on other people’s perception of me and that hurts even more, because I don’t want to disappoint them. This is where the perception of others messes with my head. By the way, when I am talking about people’s perception of me, I mean my parents, my brothers, my family, my friends. People who aren’t in my life can think whatever they want, and it won’t affect me. But my parents? My family and friends? I cannot disappoint them. I do not want to disappoint them. I don’t want to disappoint myself.

Yet, by not seeking help and going deeper into trouble, isn’t that the best way to actually disappoint them? Not telling them I am in trouble, isn’t that the gravest sin? Being in trouble isn’t a problem necessarily but not seeking help, that’s the real issue. Keeping things in and not sharing with my people, the lack of vulnerability, the belief I can do everything by myself and the ultimate fall from grace, that is the real problem. What would my parents say if I ever got into some deep trouble that could have been avoided with a phone call? How would they feel then? How would I feel? How miserable would I be? In the end, I know I am not doing myself any favors. I would go as far as say that I ultimately hurt myself when I don’t ask for help. I fucking need to learn to ask for help!

Once upon a time, my lack of vulnerability and the desire to hide my problems (which are truly the couple’s problems), cost me the most fulfilling and best relationship of my life. My inability to ask her for help, to be truthful, created a distance between us. The distance became mistrust and good luck turning mistrust into trust again. It’s nearly impossible. Not seeking help cost me something invaluable and I got to live with the consequences. She could have helped me. I could have helped us. I could have helped myself by asking for help. I didn’t. The past is the past. I only hope I learned my lesson.

I rely mostly on myself to fix my own problems. Who doesn’t? I want to be responsible, self-sufficient, strong, steady and in control of my life. However, and I seem to forget this crucial fact, asking for help doesn’t negate any of these noble things I aspire to be.

Asking for help reinforces the good. Asking for help lifts a huge weight off my shoulders. Asking for help keeps me in check. It reminds me how connected I am with other people. It reminds me I am part of an ensemble and I cannot do everything by myself. It reminds me I am not alone. Asking for help teaches me humility, vulnerability. Asking for help means I am not afraid of how I’ll be perceived. Asking for help is a show of strength; it might be the pinnacle of true strength.

I must break this awful habit. I must vanquish it and replace it with its opposite. One cannot break a bad habit and leave a void. One must replace the bad with the good. Therein lies the toughest part of being human. I must replace my silence with a vocal and true desire of asking for help. It sounds way too simple but in actuality, it isn’t. But we move.

The path to seeking help started a while ago. I recently asked help and it felt awful the moment I was saying the words “I need help”. Nevertheless, as soon as I uttered the words, I felt good. My soul felt lighter, my vulnerability wasn’t shaken. I felt at peace. I felt content. Help came. It saved me, in more ways than I could count. I went against my ego, and I won. Now, on to the next challenge. More vulnerability, more openness, more truth, more honesty with others and especially with myself. It’s fucking hard. One day at a time, I guess.

Don’t be as guarded as I am. It hasn’t helped me in any way. Try your best and seek help when you need it. Only the gods know how difficult it is to go against one’s own instincts. This new way of doing things isn’t a destination; it is a voyage. There is no end; we can only walk the path. And I am doing my best, even if it isn’t enough at the moment. But, consistency is key anyway and it is only too late when you are dead.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day!

Freeman. B

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