Asking for help is so important to my survival and happiness as a human being (even more so as a quadriplegic) that I’ve given it its own kind promise: “I will ask for help gracefully.”

What could be a simple task gets complicated in everyday life. It comes with layers of conflicting emotions.

Asking for help is a recognition of my vulnerability. It’s easy for that to feel like inadequacy which tips over into shame. As an adult, I’m supposed to be independent. Yet, as a person with profound disability, I’m expected to be completely dependent. A “good cripple” would cheerfully accept what she gets and when she gets it, expressing no impatience or judgments.

To ask for help gracefully means:

  • recognizing and being honest about my need
  • to remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
  • To recognize what I’m feeling as emotions arise.
  • To notice if emotions don’t dissolve and metabolize them safely. I’m learning this vocabulary and process from Resmaa Menakem, somatic therapist and author. When emotions are not metabolized, they come out sideways and hurt people. Metabolizing an emotion helps move it safely through my body in a nonviolent way. (I’m still experimenting with how to do this in a paralyzed body.)
  • To take skillful action when needed to create and maintain clean and close relationships.

All the kind promises serve as homework assignments. I don’t expect to accomplish them perfectly. They are invitations to practice, experiments to try.

Having set my intention, I can move forward with tender curiosity.

In your journal:

  • How do you feel when you ask for help?
  • How do you feel when you read the phrase “good cripple?”
  • Write about the word “gracefully.”