I grew up in a world where help came in two forms. It was non-existent. Or it was a betrayal disguised as help. My abusers made it clear that I was not going to find help. Each time I tried to find help, it was thwarted. Each time I had optimism, that optimism turned to disappointment as another opportunity to be helped faded into oblivion. My abusers were creative too. They would threaten others. They would brainwash me to sabotage relationships. They would damage my credibility with others. They would even employ other people to mess with me or anyone who wanted to help me. They were thorough. And because I was a child, I had no chance against their efforts.
I came out of my traumatic childhood believing that help would not be available to me. And that applied to almost everything. If I needed to call a customer service organization, I knew I would never get what I needed. If I needed help with managing my life, I was sure nobody would be available to help me. Even when I paid for help, I knew it would not be what I needed. I knew not to trust any offers for help. It didn’t matter if they were genuine. And if help did show up, I was quick to discount it as a fluke. Not surprisingly, this belief system left me isolated and exhausted. I was convinced I had to do it all. And most of the people I brought into my adult life confirmed it was true. Maybe I trained them to be useless with my over-the-top productivity. Maybe they were looking for someone who would do it all. I don’t know. But I know I always managed to find proof that help was never coming.
Now I am in the middle of a substantial home move. It is a scary time for those parts of me who believe that I will not receive help. The cold hard truth is that I cannot manage this move without help. I cannot move my furniture between houses all by myself. There are limits on my abilities and that is terrifying to my parts who believe they cannot get help. A move is a lesson in letting go of the things I cannot control. And honestly, that feels like a bad idea to my inner parts who have tons of proof that things won’t go my way. Logic says it will go the way it has always gone. But there is another way of looking at this. If I have eliminated the influences who made it all go wrong in childhood, couldn’t things go differently now? To get there, I have to express from the old beliefs and this is what they sound like.
If someone offers help, they will always want something in return. Growing up in my family, I was constantly forced to make deals with sexual abusers. The past few days, I have been helping my daughter with algebra. It isn’t easy and math anxiety does not help. And I have remembered my stepfather’s “tutoring” in algebra and the price I paid for it. It was a steep price. I’m glad I know it today, but I would never say it was worth it. Nothing is worth that. So now, my inner parts are a bit wary when someone offers to carry some furniture down my stairs or drive me to my rental car. It might save me some money, but I can hear my parts asking, “Is it worth it?”
If someone offers help, they will turn on me later. As I mentioned above, help was never free in my childhood. When people offered to help me, I am sure I would latch on for dear life. I thought there was finally someone who cared and could help get me out of my horrible life. But that would cause two problems. First, it would draw attention from my family. And they would inevitably target this person to turn them over to their side or to push them away. Second, that person would get a bit sick of my constant attention on them as I attempted to get real help. So now, my inner parts are expecting them to get resentful if I ask for too much. And “too much” is quite an undefinable term. Asking for nothing becomes the safest way to avoid problems.
If I need to rely on anyone else, it will be disastrous. When I was growing up, I experienced manipulation and gaslighting at epic levels. There were promises made with no intention of EVER upholding them. If those promises were upheld, it was never for long. Every activity where I needed a ride was in jeopardy. Everything which relied upon another human’s help was likely to become too inconvenient for them. The help they were supposed to give me was never the priority. I was labeled as the burden. I learned that if something was going to get done, I had to do it. As a child, that was impossible. I could not do everything I needed to do. But in adulthood, it is potentially achievable. At least that’s how my controller sees it. If I plan, strategize, lose sleep and work myself to the bone, I might be able to pull it off. The exhaustion is inevitable.
So I have to consider how these beliefs are no longer serving me. I have to express from the parts who see help as an impossibility. I need to question my initial belief that others aren’t going to help me (even when they have offered). I need to allow myself to ask for help even when I have inner parts screaming about the dangers of asking. This is how I can build a better network and live a life that is not defined by independence at all costs. Maybe someday, I will be able to accept help without guilt or suspicion. And I can allow the world to be a slightly more benevolent place to live. Maybe I could even take a breath every once in a while. We will see.