Why I Won’t Accept Your Help

Pride can be a crippling thing that keeps us from owning up to the truth. But it’s so easy to make it our go-to defense in times of personal trial. How do you find the strength to be honest and accept help? We are personally learning how to do this everyday.

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The phone rings, I check the caller id and weariness fills my soul. “Oh no,” I say (actually I say a swear word, but that’s an unnecessary part of the story.) “What now?” I mumble under my breath. It’s the elementary school where I currently have 4 kids enrolled. I quickly accept the call and with tension in my voice I say a quick, “Hello?” The voice of the nurse on the other end greets me with a curt, “Hello, is this Mrs. Berry?” “Yes,” I answer more worried than before. “We are concerned that Jake doesn’t have his glasses again today. Are you planning to look for them?”

I’m immediately irritated with her tone. I firmly reply, “Jake’s glasses went missing during summer school, I’ve checked with the bus station, the classroom teacher and even combed through our own back yard. If you will remember, I was in your office looking for them last week. He’s slightly far-sighted, but loves wearing his glasses, he’s never lost them before. We are still looking for them.”

I’m trying to stay calm and civil. After all, I have and Kindergartner and I will need to entrust my children to this nurse’s care for the next 5 years. It won’t pay to lose my cool over a pair of glasses. “Well, are you going to purchase a new pair, it’s really important that he have them every day.” She snaps. I take a deep breath for fear that I will do something I’m going to regret. And then I do that very thing.

“Look,” I say “I’m going to be real with you right now. Jake’s insurance won’t pay for a new pair of glasses for another month, I checked. My husband lost his job last fall and with it we lost our private insurance. We have 6 kids still at home, that’s a lot of doctor’s visits out of pocket. Jake has Medicaid, because he had a special needs adoption. Medicaid has been a true blessing. However, they will only pay for glasses that are, quite frankly, crap. He broke five pairs of Medicaid glasses before we purchased him the pair that is now missing. That pair cost over $200. My older son, Andre has FASD and requires 24 hour a day care at a facility in Reno, Nevada. Did you know that it is a 30-hour drive to Reno? I can only visit him once a month and it costs close to $1500 each trip. My kids haven’t seen their brother in 6 months and my husband and I have to take turns because we can’t afford it. We’ve sold everything we can think of including our 2nd car to help pay for his care. So, the answer is NO, we are not going to purchase Jake a new pair of glasses right now.” I finally pause to inhale and immediately feel ashamed. I have never said any of that to anyone.

I sink onto the edge of my deck and gaze over my backyard. I’m shocked by what I have said. My Great Pyrenees flops down beside me. I’m certain he is sensing my shame. He places his head on my lap. I scratch his soft ears, as I hear the nurse exhale. Has she been holding her breath through my entire rant? She speaks calmly and I envision a hostage negotiator on the other end of the line. “Would it be ok if I called the Lion’s Club? They have a program where they will purchase a new pair of glasses for children in need.” I don’t know what to say, so I keep speaking the truth. “This has been literally the most humiliating year of my life, yes you can call the Lion’s club.” Her voice softens, “Oh honey, this happens to more people than you know. The Lion’s Club truly loves providing glasses for kids. I’ll get your information to them today.” I can feel the beginning of a real sob-fest rising in my throat so I answer with a sincere but quiet, “Thank you.” She responds with a simple, “You’re welcome,” and quickly ends the call. I chuckle a little because I’m picturing her poor, shocked face.

After a good cry, I rise from the back deck and head inside to my computer to begin work. I can’t think though. I have so much pride in portraying my family’s situation as manageable and my demeanor as calm and collected. I am the expert on adoption. I am the encourager of other parents. If my life falls apart, I will lose my identity. But the truth is, I’m struggling. My bank account is empty, I’m running out of things to sell, and when I think of my first-born son so far away, I feel nothing but failure. Before I can stop myself I send a text to my three closest friends. I tell them the truth. Immediately I get a response of love and encouragement traced with absolutely no judgment. It feels good to tell the truth but I spend the next three days feeling nothing but sadness.

As the weekend approaches, my friend and I meet to exchange cars for the annual father-son camping trip. She corners me, bursting with excitement. “John and I have a plan,” she says. We are going to help you fund raise for Andre! We’ll put together a garage sale, a Go-Fund-Me account, a bake sale,” she continues on with sheer joy over her ideas. I can’t help but smile as my face reddens with embarrassment. I avert my eyes and tell her, we appreciate the support but we really just need prayer. She stops me dead in my tracks with a look of someone about to take authority. With one hand on her hip, she says, “Hold up, would you do this for me?” I sigh and answer, “Of course, but your daughter has mitochondrial disease, that’s a medical condition. Andre has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s not the same thing.”

That’s when she looks me dead in the eye and says, “Andre’s brain was damaged by drugs, alcohol, and trauma before he was even born. That is a medical condition. He has Brain Damage! It’s time for you to allow someone to help you. We are going to call your tribe and get you the help you need. You have people who love you and love your son. Why won’t you accept our help?” Tears are streaming now, I’m on a role with this truth stuff so I lay it out there, “Because, I’m a prideful jerk.” We both have a good laugh and I begin to embrace the idea that I can accept some help.

Allowing others to help does not make me weak. It makes my family stronger.

Question: Do you struggle accepting help when you need it the most? Share your story with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Jescherr

    My wife and I are beginning our journey by adopting a foster child. (Our first-born child Gabby died at the age of 4 and a half) Our second child is eleven years old, so strange to meet your son for the first time when he is ten years old, suffers from RAD, trauma, probably ADHD, and frankly a lot of other things this simple man does not understand…We have felt fear, doubt, and most of all inadequacy. We have turned on each other…and we have hidden our pain. However, we also have prayed, not given up, and most all have been working with two great therapists, a good team of professionals, a doctor, and of course a psychiatrist. But I understand your reluctance for help, especially when the problems are predominately psychological. We feel it too. We don’t want to be a burden. We don’t want to be “that family” that always needs help…even though we are both employed and the child is covered by medicaid, frankly he has nothing…we are buying clothes and toys and food and he eats a lot because food is an issue with him…sports equipment because he is athletic and he needs to be “good” at something. When we see our financials we cringe…why we were not better with money? Why are we still not great with it? Why were we so selfish? So, stupid? We are not worthy to adopt this eleven year old! And then God puts someone in our path and they do something or say something…wonderful…like telling us where we can get sports equipment cheap or they buy our little guy an article of clothing that has a Nike symbol on it….and he is joyous…and this guy…this new father again at 46…who is a big guy…who prides himself on being a guy…has to hurry home…because he is afraid he is going to cry with relief and gladness…I know the Nike symbol shouldn’t matter and it really doesn’t but for a moment it made my son smile…that was what mattered…not the symbol…thanks for the post. Evidently i needed to read where someone else feels the same way. We will pray for you…please pray for us…

    • Thank you. We will definitely pray for you and this journey you are beginning. If there’s anything amount of insight and encouragement we can give you, please email us. We’re in your corner!

    • Kristin Berry

      Oh my goodness friend, You are in the thick of things too. I love that you find the gratitude for little things like the Nike swoosh. That is such a good example for families like ours. I am praying for you and your family now. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

  • Joe Robbins

    Oh if I had the words to describe the feelings this post has brought to mind. As you know we fought for our daughter all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court. The fight lasted 4 years before it was over and the emotional and financial damage was unreal. Many times we had to ask for help from family and friends and it was utterly humiliating at times. However, it is humbling to know they were there for us and we would not have prevailed without them and ultimately God’s help. So, the take away for me was this. If someone cares enough to ask/offer just simply tell them thank you from the bottom of your heart and be blessed by them. It does others good too, not just you.

    • Joe, thanks for your honesty. We know how humiliating that can be.

    • Kristin Berry

      You are absolutely right! The people who wanted to help you with your daughter were invested in her! They feel your joy and sorrow right alongside of you. It’s good to hear stories like yours and to know that accepting help is a blessing not only for us but also for the people who get to experience the joys of each tiny success with our children as well.

  • Carolyn Southworth

    It really is great when someone offers to help and you somehow just ‘can’t’ say no. Embarrassing? Yes. Painful? Sometimes. But it’s such a relief. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, I think. And it is hard to accept help when you are used to doing it all yourself. You’re doing an amazing job, with some very difficult circumstances. I’ll continue praying for you. And I think your friends who want to help are awesome 🙂 I could use a few like that 🙂

    • Thanks for your prayers Carolyn.

    • Kristin Berry

      Carolyn, We feel the constant exhaustion you are talking about. I’m prayerful that you will find an incredible support system and that your son will find healing and success as well.

  • Allisonm

    Part of the difficulty for me is figuring out what people can do to be helpful. We already have a team of professionals and are getting pretty much every service that could help. The isolation and loneliness are what professionals really can’t do much to help. Life with children who have special needs, especially things like prenatal substance exposure, PTSD, and RAD, that disrupt the child’s ability to form relationships, can become pretty one-dimensional. Everything is focused on meeting our children’s needs and getting through crisis after crisis. I get too exhausted to think about anything else and every time I try, another issue arises that cannot safely be ignored or postponed. It’s as though we as parents/primary caregivers need caregivers ourselves. Maybe someone like Alice on the Brady Bunch, who cleaned, did laundry, and served up meals, smiles, friendship, and sage advice.

    • Allison, that is such a struggle. We have been there. We’ve known we needed help but really did not know where to begin. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kristin Berry

      Oh, I LOVE the idea of Alice. All special needs families should have an Alice 🙂 I know exactly what you mean about focusing on our child’s needs all the time above all else. I love when people tell me to just take a nap, ha ha ha ha. I want to say, ‘do you have any idea what my kids would do while I was napping?’ I wish you the best with your family Allison.

  • John

    For those that would like to help the Berry family please visit https://www.gofundme.com/BerryTravelFund.

    • Kristin Berry

      Thank you so much for your friendship and support. We are so humbled by your care for our family!

    • Overwhelmed by your generosity and love my friend.

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