These seemingly random anecdotes are for you if:
-You have a hard time asking for help.
-Think you “should just know” how to handle this breakup/relationship turmoil
-Are too proud to admit you don’t have all the answers.
And yes, I just described a past version of myself (and many of my clients).
In high school, I used to spend my summer wees going to a backpacking/wilderness camp. I had never slept in the woods before, cooked over a fire, or had to pump my drinking water from a stream. I’d also never before eaten a crawdad (and will never again).
I grew up a bit from my high school self (in some ways, not in others) and dreamed of being a staff at this camp. Summer after my freshman year in college, I became a part of the summer staff team. It was this weird “I have arrived” moment. I was so proud of my position-after all, it’s what I had wanted for years. There was a lot of pride. I needed to not ef up! I needed to know all the things, to have all the answers.
Fast forward to a fateful week where I led a group of middle school boys (our group name was “Bafana Bafana,” hot on the heels of the world cup in South Africa). I didn’t know a thing about boys. I was out of my comfort zone. What do 12 year old boys even like to talk about (farts, turns out). Can I relate? Will I be any good? Do I know the trails ahead? I channeled this anxiety into knowing ev-er-y-thing. Need a bandaid? I know just where to get one. Need water? Well, I’ve figured out just how many steps until our next break-fear not!! Ugh, the list goes on and on.
I received feedback at the end of that week from an adult hiker who was in the group. “Lindsey does not ask for help and cannot accept help when it is offered.” Important to note- not only did I suck at asking for help, I also crumbled under (what I perceived to be) criticism. I remember feeling first, defensive, then, embarassed. Howver, all of this feedback was true and heartfelt. But I wasn’t ready to accept it as such.
Fast forward to the last week of hiking of the summer. Our five day adventure consisted of switching trails daily, many of which I’d never been on. I was nervous. I liked knowing EXACTLY how it was going to do down, 10 steps before it actually went down (Damn! As I write this, I’m realizing I was far more anxious as a teen than I ever realized!). We made it to our last night without getting lost. SUCCESS.
On our last night on the trail, we set up camp and I went to find water. (That’s what leaders do, right? The Do, and provide? Amirite? → ugh) Turns out, there was no water to be found. I read the map and the hand written notes and my instructions from my friend and..and annd…Nothing. “Everything’s fine.” “Dinner might be a little late tonight.” “Keep on keepin on, team, nothin’ to see here.” Seeing the panic on my face and the urgency in my words and actions, a hiker, Ed, approached me. “Lindsey. Let me help. Let’s find some water.”
I paused. Then froze. Then cried. 1.5 hours later, we found water.
Should my obscure story be too obscure, lemme fill in the gaps a bit.
So many of my clients call me or ask for help from others, much much later than when they actually need help. There are so many messages (from perfectly manicured social media accounts that suggest ‘ease’ in life and relationships, from well meaning friends and family) that suggest or blatantly tell us we “should just know.” Sometimes we don’t know. We don’t know how to handle a breakup, how to identify healthy patterns. We don’t know if we want to stay or go. People tell us we’re supposed to know, or suggest that it’s easy. And instead of asking for help, we just keep making up shit. It’s okay to not know.
Don’t wait til you’re out of water to ask for help.
Lindsey Brock | The Breakup Coach
I'm Lindsey! I care about you and want to help you to have healthy, secure relationships. Sometimes, that means we've gotta leave the ones we're in. I can help you do that, too. Have something you'd like me to write about? Drop me a line and let me know!