In a way, help is both a blessing and a curse. There is a good-news, bad-news quality to help. The bad news comes when you find yourself in such a dire situation where you absolutely, desperately need help. You’re in trouble, and your own efforts are not enough to save you. When help is what you get, that’s very good news, indeed.
You are at the end of your rope, up a creek without a paddle, in over your head. Choose whatever colorful metaphor you want to use, but they all have something in common: Help is not always something you’re willing to accept. If you’re at the end of your rope, you have to drop that rope and grasp onto another one you’re not holding. If you’re up a creek without a paddle, once given a paddle, you actually have to start paddling, often against the current. If you’re in over your head, you have to decide to come up for air. Help is needed, help is offered, but help also has to be accepted. Help is a three-step process:
Recognizing Help Is Needed
Denise had reached the threshold of step one; she knew she needed help. Her anger, scathing sarcasm, and bitter outlook were poisoning her life. The worse it got, the further family and friends retreated to the outskirts of her affection. The worse it got, the easier it was to reach for food to calm and relieve her agitation. Her relationships shrank and her weight ballooned. Things were totally out of control, and Denise realized she needed help.
This was not a conclusion Denise arrived at easily. Over the years, she had fought hard in her life to not need anything. She grew up to be in charge, in control, a self-sufficient person who was supposed to guide, direct, and delegate to others. Help was something Denise believed she was supposed to provide others. Help, she thought, was something strong people like her were obligated to provide to other — weaker — people. Help was something you responded with, not something you needed yourself.
During my first counseling session with Denise, she spent most of the time forcefully going over why she wasn’t the sort of person who really needed help. It became immediately apparent that while Denise had reluctantly acceded to the possibility I might be of some small help to her, she was firmly in control of whether or not she accepted that help.
She reminded me of a house with a plethora of “No Trespassing,” “Do Not Enter,” and “Warning: Guard Dog on Duty” signs posted everywhere. Intrigued, I could only hope that Denise would trust me enough to allow me past her carefully constructed barriers. Denise wanted help, but she only wanted it yelled across the safety of the sidewalk — not whispered from inside the locked chamber of her heart and emotions. I needed to get inside to be able to give her the help she really needed.
You’re past step one by this time, aren’t you? Haven’t you come to accept that you need help controlling your urges, compusions, addictions, patterns, behaviors — whatever way you’ve come to think of these debilitating, controlling excessities in your life? As they say, the first step to getting help is admitting you need it.
You’re also on your way toward the second step, which is to find the right place to get help. There are plenty of places that offer help; that’s often the problem. Many things are offered, but few are the real deal. Excessities feed off your need for help. They are parasitical, existing in a symbiotic relationship with your need. In this relationship, the excessity is the parasite (that which gains benefit), and you are the host (that which is used without true gain or benefit).
Excessities aren’t really interested in providing you with gain, benefit, or any real help for your need because without your need, they wouldn’t have a place in your life. Excessities are great at keeping you firmly locked in step one, knowing you need help but going back to them again and again. They are not interested in letting you progress to step two, where you discover the right place to get help.
So where do you get the right help? Read Part 2 of the journey of help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or disordered eating, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.