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A Rough Patch

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Do you ever have to remind yourself to breath? Do life’s demands ever take a toll that leaves you questioning if you are seeing things as they truly are? The last three weeks have significantly stretched me. As I type, Bryant, who may have fractured his heel, is at the urgent care and Spencer in Emergency room. Spencer’s in pain and spoiler alert… being just two weeks out from surgery, could mean he is having complications. This leaves me wondering when this back-breaking pace will let up.

the-purpose-of-life (2) A Rough Patch A Rough Patch the purpose of life 2Just as we launched Prince Chronicles, my daughter Payton had shoulder surgery. Because she managed to play a whole season and attend a collegiate level lacrosse camp, we were delayed in learning the full extent of the injury. Payton is a tough cookie! She was injured cheerleading in the spring.  She opted to have the surgery immediately so she could complete the four to five month recovery in time to avoid missing an entire season. If we scheduled the surgery as soon as possible we could limit her missed opportunities to just one.  Although she’d have to do it wearing her chunky support sling, she could still audition for her high school’s spring musical, sing in church, have her sweet sixteen, attend homecoming and more. Overall Payton is still able to participate in the activities happening during the eight weeks she is required to sport her medical contraption.

We’d hoped to return, as a family, to perform once again in Ira David Wood’s, “A Christmas Carol,” in Raleigh this December.  We have had a two year hiatus but with Bryant in braces his film and television demands are reduced and without the claim on our time from Payton cheering, we thought we could manage joining the cast for the 40th anniversary. With Payton’s recovery and the initial care needed from me, we could no longer audition. A small sacrifice for a strong healthy child. My husband had the same surgery six weeks prior so I felt I knew what was required of me for her to recuperate.

Immediately following Payton’s procedure, the surgeon met with Spencer and I to let us know how things went and what we could expect during her recovery. Spencer immediately learned that the intense pain he was experiencing was not normal and the physical therapy he’d been instructed to do by his surgeon’s PT team was too aggressive. Payton’s surgeon asked to see his arm. On the spot we were devastated to learn that he was reinjured.  In six days’ time he had an urgent second surgery. I shared news of his impending surgery with the close friends and family who were waiting to hear about Payton’s surgical outcome.

Not only would I be losing both helpers I’d come to rely on to manage our home and two toddlers, but each simultaneously, would require limitless assistance and care from me during their respective recoveries. Think about all the things one would need help with when losing the use of their strong arm.  Dressing, bathing, tying shoes to name a few. Additionally, both Bryant and I had medical appointments/procedures that could not be rescheduled. I couldn’t do it alone. We thought about asking the Mister’s mother, dear Gigi, to come to the rescue, but she was in the middle of her own recovery from a serious injury that happened in an accident working in her yard. As friends came the day of surgery to see Payton we relayed our bad news. Each one offered assistance.

Instantly, in the midst of this, Neely got a terrible tummy virus. One that created mountains of laundry and sent her potty training into full regression mode for the third time. Then a major stomach flu followed for Bryant and he narrowly missed a visit to the ER.  Miraculously on the days I was scheduled to teach my acting students, my children were well enough. I still taught my class and managed to lead the church choir despite people actively giving me an out. I was literally sleepless and running from person to person and task to task.

Help came. Friends cared for Payton, my girls and Bryant who was home sick from school while I took Spencer for surgery. On two occasions my kitchen was cleaned. One friend stood by and allowed me to get a shower. Small gifts and packages were delivered. Many blessings were given. There were rides to preschool and Neely got to go to a museum. One friend arranged six people to bring dinners. Others brought meals on the off days. A friend took me for my procedure and when I got home another friend stayed with my littles while I recovered for the evening. Friends checked on whoever was recovering at home while I had other members of the family at appointments. I even offloaded Payton to her second mother for two nights for fear she would contract Bryant’s virus and undo what the surgeon did if her body wretched as his did. Countless kind deeds poured in.

Two major factors got me through these initial couple weeks, I like to refer to as a rough patch. First, help from others who bore these burdens with me lessened my load and carried me through. They strengthened my family and me through their service. Second, I was somehow able to keep it all in perspective.  I felt immense gratitude that these were temporary setbacks. We would each recover from our ailments. Knowing how it feels to suffer from circumstances that aren’t as easily resolved, I was elated these were obstacles that we would overcome in a relatively short time.  I felt fortunate to have challenges with such positives outcomes in store.

I’m relieved that I promptly shared my needs with others who were led to offer their assistance. I’m thankful I have people I can ask for help when I need it. I have not always been so willing to accept or ask for help. I have faced far more turbulent times in my life and faced them nearly alone. It was these times that taught me, rather that pushed me, to reach out.

Many are fraught with discomfort when it comes to asking for help. Although I have experienced marked improvement in this area, I still find it difficult to accept help from others let alone ask for it.  We are not meant to get through life on our own. Life can be a humbling thing.  If the words, “I need help,” are not in your vocabulary, then I believe circumstances will surely come your way.  If these circumstances are not to teach you how to ask others for assistance, then minimally they are to encourage you to accept a helping hand when one is offered. I think knowing when to accept relief from those around us is just as important as serving our fellow man. We can learn as much from being lifted as we learn from the support we give.

Payton-Spencer-surgery A Rough Patch A Rough Patch Payton Spencer surgery

Payton and Spencer after Surgery

Why don’t we accept help? I think it is difficult for many to lose the satisfaction that comes from being totally self-sufficient. Being self-reliant is empowering and a major self-esteem booster. Who wants to impose or put someone out?  My father used to say he’d be robbing a man of blessings if he didn’t accept their kindness. With every act of service comes an opportunity to create a bond with another person. Why is it so difficult to ask for help? The short answer, PRIDE.  Not pride that comes from being capable, but rather we want to avoid being told no. We don’t want to put ourselves out there for fear of rejection. Most would never dream of accepting help from someone who couldn’t or shouldn’t. We want our associates, friends and family to be honest. We want them to tell us if they can’t help us but, for some reason, we still feel pain, humiliation and rejection. Half the battle is realizing we feel this way but I’ve learned there are ways to combat this obstacle.

One thing that helps me to overcome the fear of asking is to have a plan B. I communicate it so the person I’m asking has an out. This way, I can feel confident they are only saying yes because they are willing and able. The benefit of this is when others ask me this way I am keenly aware of what they are doing, I see the need and will move mountains to help. The downfall of this tactic is one might under-communicate the urgency of the need and it gives the person permission to say no. Be careful not to minimize your need. Honestly communicate what is going on so the person has the full picture. If denied, I try to make a conscious decision to choose an emotion other than rejection. I try flipping my outlook and adopt an attitude of gratitude to feel grateful that they were comfortable enough with me to be honest about their limitations. After all, saying no is a proven difficulty as well.

With the over-scheduled world we live in and ever-advancing technology hastening our pace, we are becoming increasingly isolated.  The world we live in makes it difficult to cultivate relationships with others, to create a network where we can give and receive help. Allow me to suggest that we be trailblazers.  Let’s look up from our screens. Step out of our front doors to meet our neighbors. Let’s talk to people at work, extracurricular activities, school, church and other organizations and create circles.  I try to develop support groups where I can serve others and call on them to help when the unavoidable rough patches come. They will undoubtedly come for us all.

Human interaction and care is essential to our happiness.  Risk is an inherent part of living a full and joyful life so we should take risks and make connections with our fellow beings.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

2 Comments

  1. Kristian Nicole Jackson says:

    Great post! This speaks volumes and was filled with great reminders. I recently performed a monologue at church titled “Do you see Me?”, all about reaching out to those around you. I’m also in a bible study based on the book titled “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst, which is all about making the “best yes” decisions in your life in regards to how you spend your time and not over scheduling your life. Many blessings to your family as you all get through this “rough patch”. Thanks for sharing!

    • Melanie Prince says:

      Sweet friend
      I will definitely check out “Do You see Me” and “The Best Yes”. Thank you for your kind wishes and for the recommendations. Your family is beautiful!

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