by Danielle M Sherman-Lazar
Note: This post originally appeared on Living a Full Life After ED and has been cross-posted with permission.
“Let me give you a hand with Vivienne (my 18-month old) so you can go get something to eat or sit down?”
“It’s okay, I got it.” I politely smile back.
“Want some water, I will go get you a glass?”
“I am fine, but thanks.”
“Let me hold your diaper bag at least.”
“I. Got. It.” Words tersely spewing out of my mouth through gritted teeth.
When you are thirty-five weeks pregnant like me, and with a toddler in tow, people tend to want to help you out—especially the nicer ones (I mean, I would do the same thing!). It’s a very kind gesture and a lot of people love the help, but news flash: I absolutely loathe it. My immediate reaction is a deep want to Kung Fu the person (sometimes with nunchucks depending how persistent said person is) trying to assist me. Normal? Not really, but I can’t help this visceral reaction.
In fact, when my gynecologist said that I may have to start taking it easier in the third trimester and lift my daughter less, my first reactionary thought was lo siento, no Ingles (meaning, I don’t want to comprehend what you are saying, so I am going to pretend I can’t…). But I nodded, Uh huh, as that suggestion went chugga chugga into one eardrum and choo choo out the other like a runaway train.
So why this sour attitude toward kind Samaritans?
Well for most of my life I associated any form of help with me being incapable. This may be partly because when I was in third grade, I was diagnosed with a processing problem, meaning it takes me a little longer to take in information than most students. My mom made me get a tutor to “help” me, which I translated as, “Dani, you are a idiot.” My being a failure became an internal mantra.
Summer of third grade is also when I was introduced to my close companion, ED (Eating Disorder). The typical internal monologue of someone who takes on ED as a best friend is “I am not enough” “I am a failure” “I don’t deserve pleasure” “I have no worth.” These thoughts only exacerbated and confirmed my internal mantra making it a constant theme song in my life: The Dani Sucks At Everything Show. This could be why, it took me until I was twenty-six and had health complications to finally ask for the help I needed to be-rid myself of ED—the frequent guest host in my life.
I also grew up in an upper middle class town surrounded by a lot of people that were fortunate. Some seemed to take their fortune for granted, which made me as an observer, go the completely other direction—not wanting any handouts. My parents are very successful so it was always assumed everything was taken care of for me and that assumption angered me. At the height of my ED, I became all about being completely independent and taking care of everything myself, not caring if it was hurting me—black and white thinking till the very end.
So Please Have Patience with Me
“Dani, I wish I could do more to help you out,” my husband says as he lathers Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel on my back, to alleviate my third trimester night itching I have developed.
“I am fine and you are helping me by doing this,” I answer as the cool lotion takes over my itchy skin, calming it down.
“No, you never let anyone do anything. It’s frustrating,” he laments.
This is our nightly routine.
Look, I have come a long way. I am almost five years into recovery (December 3, 2017 is the big day); feel the best I ever have, but go go go is just a huge part of my personality and take it easy is not in my vocabulary. I will at least now accept help at times when I am exhausted or overwhelmed, but I am a work in progress in regards to wanting help at all times or just because. I have found my gray area, but my gray area is still a type-A-personality-who-likes-to-achieve-on-her-own. So as long as the doctor says my baby is doing well, I plan to keep up my current pace. This self-reflection has left me wondering if it’s a me thing or an ED thing—Does any one else who has struggled with ED have this distaste or struggle with help as well?