I have always been the kind of guy saying “what can I do for you?” I always had an over-developed sense of responsibility. Helping coach the high school football team the year after I graduated from high school myself. Stage managing professional productions and being responsible for the operations of very expensive shows starting when I was twenty years old. Managing and fundraising for several theater companies and helping keep them open (when some of them probably should have closed!) to ensure serving their communities and providing work for stage artists. And of course for my family.
As a result, it was very, very hard for me to learn to accept another person’s offer to help me. Maybe it is because I am a guy, or it was my ego, my pride or just my deep, practically crushing feelings of insecurity. “If I accepted someone’s help, then maybe I was a lesser person and not worthy of their caring – or even their love??” Ooouuch, it hurts to say that!
These issues came home to roost with me sixteen years ago when I started my fight with Multiple Myeloma. There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to make you realize you can’t do everything by yourself. My initial step in dealing with this emotional roadblock was my rationalization that by accepting someone’s help, I was giving something back to them. That sounds nice and might be true to some degree and it “worked” for a little while, but I came to realize the plain and simple fact that I needed help. And there was no getting around it and no shame in it.
Even things like being so wiped out that I couldn’t drive myself for many months at a time. And believe me, being a Southern California guy where you practically get in the car just to drive to the bathroom; it is a big deal to learn to ride in the passenger seat. Thank God for Nancy and my family and their patience with me while I came to learn my new reality.
And that is the simple truth – you can’t do it by yourself. You need to accept and be grateful for help.