Sometimes it is difficult to ask for help. As HSPs, many of us are conscientious and like to think that we can handle things on our own. However, I have learned that getting help from others can sometimes make a really big difference.
On my May 16th, 2014 blog post, I asked the HSP community for input regarding a family conflict. My mother’s 90th birthday was on July 10th. That date came on a Thursday, and my sisters wanted to celebrate on the weekend because of work schedules.
As a traditionalist, I believe that a birthday should be celebrated on the exact day, especially a major milestone birthday. I understood that everyone was busy, but I was willing to adjust my schedule to do what I thought was right. The problem was that my sisters didn’t feel the same way, and I resented them for not being willing to sacrifice their time for this special occasion.
When I talked to my mother, she said she didn’t care when her birthday was celebrated, though I felt in my heart that she was trying to keep the peace. My question to you was… Do I give in, and go against what I truly believe, or do I make plans to celebrate my mother’s birthday on the actual day?
I really appreciated the support and heartfelt sentiments that I received from the HSP community. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I read ALL of your comments! I was overwhelmed, in a good way, and grateful to all of you who took the time to express your thoughts. Here are excerpts from some of those suggestions:
“My heart’s first answer was to celebrate with her on the actual day. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful memory to have? Then you can have a larger celebration on the weekend as well.”
“In our family, due to busy work schedules, we generally had parties on the weekends. But we’d observe the day during the week with just us. Seems to me, you should do what’s right for your mom and you. Most moms don’t want to make trouble in the family. But your mom will surely appreciate it if you help her celebrate on the exact day. You could also let your sisters do what they want and then join them too…”
“…Your mother has already celebrated 89 birthdays. If she says she doesn’t care to wait a few days to celebrate it on the weekend, I believe her. It seems better to celebrate it if all of the family is together. My family has done the same thing when someone’s birthday is close to the weekend. We just wait till Saturday or Sunday so more people can attend. Or have two celebrations…”
After giving it some thought, I decided to talk more with my mother about the situation. She felt it was more important to have everyone together than to celebrate on her actual birthday. In the past, I may have continued to argue my position, but after considering your comments, along with my mother’s thoughts, I felt that a compromise solution would be best. Your feedback provided a fresh perspective, and I realized that perhaps I was making too much of this issue.
I felt really good about my decision and was able to peacefully set the matter to rest. As the time for the celebration came near, the plans were coming together, and everyone was going to be there… just like my mother wanted! In order to keep peace in the family, while also honoring my personal feelings, I decided to take my mother and her sister, my Aunt Vicky, out to lunch on her birthday with a mini birthday cake, and then to have a larger birthday celebration on the weekend.
But sadly and most unexpectedly, my mother passed away a week before her birthday. The family WAS all together, but unfortunately it was at her funeral!
As heartbroken as I was at the loss of my mother, I was thankful that I had not continued to argue over the birthday plans. Given the challenging relationships I have with my sisters, these disagreements can escalate, and I would hate to think of my mother spending her last days caught in the middle of family conflict. I can only imagine the guilt and regret I would have had!
I always try to learn from my experiences, and here are some important lessons I learned from this situation: (1) Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. (2) You don’t have to handle your problems or conflicts by yourself. (3) It’s useful to seek the opinions of others and consider alternative perspectives.
For me, it was an especially good time to be reminded of these lessons, as I would be needing lots of help from others in the coming weeks and months. It’s situations like this that underscore how important it is to be able to ask for and accept help from others. And once again, I thank you for your support!
Was there a time in your life where you needed support and asked for it? Was it helpful? Were there times where you wished you had asked for it? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
The next post, (4) The Day My Mother Died, is about dealing with grief and making final arrangements for my mother.