March 29, 2009

How to Ask for or Accept Help From a Man

This may have something to do with growing up in the midst of the gaining strength of the feminist movement which taught America that men were all pigs or dogs (I happen to love dogs) no matter what they did and women didn't need a man. So here I am growing up in this culture throwing this message at me left and right while my mom was teaching me independence. So I'm sure my brain mixed the messages up a bit rather than filter out the ridiculous one.

I have always been proud of my independence and had an interest and ability to learn things that have always been traditionally "male" responsible task. For example I love mowing lawn, I got my dad to teach me how to work on my car when I owned American, as well as basic maintenance things that apply regardless of your car's country of development. I didn't need any man's help for anything and if I did, I would call my dad. He was the only man capable of helping me. Not to mention stranger danger, and don't trust a stranger to help, you because they will probably tie you up, throw you in their trunk and you'll disappear from the face of the earth and no one will know what happened to you.

My trusty friend, who I can look back and say she and I had our heads on straight for the most part, discussed this and how we felt it was actually a weakness of ours rather than a strength. How can a man prove he's a man to you if you won't let him be a man and help you when you are in distress, even if you don't really NEED him to help you.

A perfectly great example of this happened when I was driving my car full of friends and we were probably out to go to dinner and a movie. I do believe I was in a hurry driving and I jumped the curb (I don't know how else to say it) and ended up cutting my tire and it went flat. I was myself for being so stupid. At least two of my friends had cell phones and between the two of them either had road side assistance or AAA or something that would have come and changed my tire for free since it didn't matter who owned the car. Stubborn me already knew good and well how to change a stupid tire and I didn't need anyone to come out and change my freaking tire. I just need to vent my anger while I changed my tire. The whole time they are telling me that it's really no big deal to call someone. Well what they didn't get at the time I think, is that my ego was shot for being careless and causing my own flat tire. I had to redeem myself by proving that Yes I Amber Sunshine could change my own tire, with a few choice words, without the help of a professional. So I did and we laughed about how silly I was for years.

I knew this was an issue I needed to work on, but pride is a hard thing to set aside. And I do believe that was at the core of my problem. I'm trying to remember how my friend and I decided to handle it. I think we just decided to be more conscious of it and to make more of an effort to let people help when they offered.

An example of this came sometime in college again related to a flat tire. I was driving up to my dad's house by myself on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I'm not sure what happened but a few exits before his house, my tire went flat and I pulled over. I wasn't mad this time, it was no big deal. I would just change my tire and be on my way. Before I could even get everything out of my trunk some strangers (OH NO!!!) stopped and offered to help. I was dressed nicer than normal and I knew they were being nice on such a holiday and didn't have to stop. Rather than freak out and run screaming "STRANGER DANGER" down the road, I graciously said thank you and let them take care of my tire and about 10 minutes later I was on my way. Not stuffed in anyone's trunk if you can believe it!! I didn't have dirty hands, and I had accepted help. There was at least one other time that I was stranded, maybe for gas, at night that someone did stop and help. It's much scarier at night than during the day. There have also been other times I was stranded that people weren't so kind to stop and help and I had to hike it to the nearest gas station (before I had a cell phone) to call for help.

What I learned was that accepting or asking for help is not giving up my independence. It is in fact being resourceful and getting by even when mommy and daddy are no longer around to bail me out when I'm in trouble. And that's just as important as being independent.


jan said...

I have given help to a lot of men who were at a loss about how to do laundry, cook something more complicated than boiled water, and make clothing repairs. So, no, I don't mind accepting help in areas that I'm not proficient in.

Traci said...

I give credit to Inez for making us stop and think about this one. The older I get the less accepting help bothers me, probably because I'm tired and I don't care who does it as long as it gets done. It's nice to know that I can take care of myself if I need to. I think it is important to not let our independence hide our femininity.

Stephanie said...

Great topic! I too have a problem asking a man for help. In fact I married a rather "sensitive" man - well he's British so he's allowed to be somewhat sensitive, but I'm definitely the dominant person in the relationship instead of the male usually being dominant. My husband usually comes to me for help LOL

As a woman, I think we almost HAVE to be masculine in some ways in order to be seen as individuals in most male eyes. Not to categorize all men as being testosterone-flooded animals, but it's interesting to share these similar stories with other women and realize how much we really feel like we have to prove to the men in our lives that we are perfectly capable human beings in our own right.

Amber Sunshine said...

spot on Traci...the independence and feminity part....and you're right...Inez gave us a lot of great advice in the embracing our feminine side...Maybe that was her purpose in our lives :)

Iam Robert said...

What a great insight! I quess my only questions, being a man, is how do I ask and accept help from a woman. The other is, how do we both be gracious in the process (in both giving and receiving)?

My question comes from all the misque's with my wife--both when trying to help her and receive it as well.

Again, great post.

Amber Sunshine said...

Thanks for stopping by Robert!!!I hope you'll come back!
The mystery of women is beyond even me. Although sometimes men mystify me too. I suppose the best thing we can do is to be conscious of our own actions and what we can do to graciously give and receive and to actively think of ways to solicit the help and then follow up with an effort to be sweet and greatful about it...Our job is to treat our other half kindly and lovingly even when we don't want to or they may not deserve it.