Need is Not a Four-letter Word

I have a secret. I have a hard time admitting or asking for help. I’ve been like this for so long that it’s hard to break the habit. I’ve recently found that when I finally tell people that I need something that they are willing to come to my aid. Now, the way my life is changing, I am not going to have much of choice but to ask for or expect help at some point. It’s caused me a lot of anxiety, but also makes me think very differently.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” -Lena Horne

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I have asthma. I developed it as at the age of thirty. It’s not easy to have your whole way of living change at the age of thirty, especially when it involves the most vital aspect of living. The problem that I am facing is that I may not have a guarantee of medical insurance in the coming months. I might not be able to live with asthma without the maintenance medications that help me to breathe on a daily basis. The added stress is that my father recently died of an asthma attack so I have a very strong concern on not having any medication to keep myself healthy. I am praying that something happens before that time comes so I can continue my benefits. I have been fortunate up until now that it hasn’t been something that I had to think about.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that some of the people that are closest to me exhibit the same behaviors in my childhood that reinforce my belief that I can only depend on myself. I feel myself either shutting down or fighting back when I encounter them. For example, I am a sensitive and emotional person. I have learned that I cannot show my emotions to everyone because some people will exploit it and hold it against me which is hurtful. But, with people I trust, I will give you evidence of when my feelings are hurt and I will reveal my tears. As a child, the people that I revered would sigh in exasperation and inflict me by taunting me with the label, “crybaby.” Eventually, I learned that there was no value in my tears. As I swallowed those tears, it turned to lashing out in anger because the people closest to me didn’t respect my feelings. It was easier to protect myself. The odd thing is that I got more response, reaction and respect when I was angry. Tears led to disrespect while anger gave me immediate response.  I still have people in my life that do not honor my sensitivity and I realize it is because I don’t honor it. To be honest, the world doesn’t honor feelings. We are all supposed to be composed, unemotional robots instead of appreciating the beauty in another person’s emotions. When a child is born, the most beautiful sound is the first cry because it is proof of life. After that, the cry is a source of irritation because it is a signal of need. It is a request for sympathy, comfort and understanding.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”- Washington Irving

My secret is that I have always longed for someone that would see my needs, pick up that burden and carry it on their back. I think that is what we are all looking for. I guess it is why people get married and why people still believe in love. It’s the hope that someone will see all that you are and be there for you when you think you can’t go on. When I was younger, I didn’t think it would matter that much. I assumed that I would always be able to take care of myself. Nothing changes that thinking faster than when you are clutching your chest and praying for your next breath to come. Now, I know that I have no guarantee that my body will permit me to save myself. This means that I am required to depend on someone else. It can’t be someone that is there when it’s convenient. It has to be someone that will come running when I am in distress and who will want me to breath as much as I long to continue breathing. I’m starting to think that is a great criteria for anyone in your life. If they care so much about your breathing that they would carry you on their back to get you help, then that is someone worth keeping. However, if your tears or next breath are viewed as an inconvenience, it is definitely a sign that it is not geniune.

My secret is out, but it doesn’t bother me. Crying, needing someone and asking for help cannot be sources of shame any longer. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.  Lack of tears is much scarier to me and I will no longer be one of those people stuffing my feelings down into my heart. Maybe the world would be a better place if we were allowed to show how we feel and ask for help when we need it. Illness is the hard way to find out that you need someone in your life. It will humble you and show you a great deal about yourself and what you are capable of. It’s a blessing hidden in a difficulty. If you are lucky, you won’t have to experience illness to learn the lesson that it is important to have people around you that care about your well-being, your feelings and your life.


  1. Ask at your hospital about low cost/no cost medical benefits if unemployment or money are the issue. Don’t be too proud to take charity “just in case”.
    The good thing is that you can get emergency care, but those bills can be very high.

    • Thank you for your comment. I am looking into low cost options. Asthma is considered a disability so I think there are some options if I have to go that route. Breathing beats pride any day.

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