A few months after moving into my new home, there was a change of seasons. It has been in my rhythm for many years to clean up the garden with the start of each new season. I had not yet done much gardening in my new place, partly because I hadn’t had the time and partly because it is well planted and sort of maintains itself so I was looking forward to getting out in nature and getting my hands dirty. Summer was over and things needed pruning and prepped for winter.
I was being particularly careful with what I was doing because it was new terrain for me so I was watching my footing with extra caution. I had even taken a break after a few hours to make sure I wasn’t over extending myself.
But then . . . I stooped down to pick up a pile of branches I had been accumulating over by the tree line and when I came up I brushed a tree and I felt something drop from the tree and land on my back. I turned my head to look over my left shoulder and I thought it was a snake so of course the adrenaline kicked in, I dropped the arm load of branches and threw my right arm across the front of my body to grab the snake, thinking it would be better to be bitten in the hand then the neck! (Turns out that what I thought was a snake was a branch that looked like a snake!) But the damage was done. I had torn my right shoulder in the fling.
I did what I could to rest but after a few sleepless nights and experimenting with all sorts of pillow arrangements, I reached out for physical support from an esoteric massage therapist. At the conclusion of my session, he said to me, “You need to take it very easy after this session. Just go home and rest.”
I protested. How would that be possible? Firstly it was my right arm (and I’m right handed) and secondly I’m one of those people who always have a long list of projects to complete which require a physical output, that very day being a case in point. I had fourteen people coming over for dinner that night. I needed to go home and re-arrange the dining room by bringing in a second table and extra chairs AND I had to cook my contribution for the dinner.
The practitioner then said, “You can either act like your arm is broken so that you can’t use it at all and your recovery will be much easier or you can keep trying to use your arm and have a much longer recovery.”
I was still protesting. But what about my dinner gathering? He suggested that I call some of the guests and ask them to come around early and move the tables and get the chairs for me. And that I revise the menu so that I was not chopping food.
Then he dropped the bomb that would change my life. He very sweetly said, “There is no brotherhood in self sufficiency.”
He went on to suggest that the people I was inviting to dinner would have much more sense of community with the group if they were asked to contribute to the setting up of the space as opposed to walking into a home or dining room with every chair, dish and fork in place.
I drove away thinking how challenging it would be for me to call and ask for help. Just not my style!
But my shoulder was causing me serious pain. I was concerned that I had possibly done permanent damage, perhaps I’d not be able to raise or extend my right arm again - ever. At that stage, I couldn’t even raise my arm enough to get my fingers on the keyboard so I knew I had to take his advice. I made the call to ask for a couple of the guys to come move the table and chairs for our dinner party.
Everyone was, of course, more than happy to rally around the cause. After dinner everyone chipped in and cleared the table, put the left over food in containers, did the dishes and moved the furniture back to other places in the house, talking, laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves asking where this chair goes and which cupboard that dish goes in.
That night I was able to see and feel the extra camaraderie that everyone experienced because of the shared purpose of helping me out and being responsible for setting up and breaking down the space for our dinner. It was a beautiful thing.
I did spend the next few days NOT using my right arm, pretending it was broken and unable to be used. Those days gave me several opportunities to practice ‘asking for help’. One day I had to ask a neighbour to help me get a box of books to the Post Office. I was able to observe how difficult it was for me to ask for help and then, I was still ‘trying’ to help the neighbour who was helping me. I could see how I was actually getting in the way, making the job more difficult for my neighbour!
Then for several weeks I was quite limited in what I could do with my right arm, still giving me even more practice at ‘brotherhood.’ Eventually, several months later my arm was back to where it was before that day when I mistook a branch for a snake. The benefit of the long recovery was that I did have to break out of my life long habit of being ‘fiercely independent.’
Being independent and self-sufficient was something I had previously taken pride in. I actually thought it was noble not to need another’s help. With so many months to reflect on my attitude, I was able to see how it kept me isolated. It still isn’t easy for me to ask for help but I’m much better at it than I used to be. It no longer feels like a weakness to need help, instead it feels like an opportunity to connect with others.
Please feel free to share the wisdom.
“There’s no brotherhood in self-sufficiency.”
~ Curtis Benhayon
Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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