How Can I Ask Without Sounding ‘Needy’?

I’ve always been an independent person – one to break the mold, intentionally or not. I had older sisters who set the mold — high school, employment, pay room and board to help the family, marriage, leave employment, raise children, work part time and help raise grandchildren. But I was different – encouraged by teachers to go to college, I did. I had no money for those two years, nothing to pay my parents for room and board, nothing to pay my friends who gave me rides to school. Then I, too, married, got a good job with my 2 year degree, had one child, left employment, went back to college full time, worked part time, got a better job with my 4 year degree, burned out, got a lesser job and was encouraged to go to grad school while working, juggled family, job, school and bills, got the best job with my graduate degree, had a second child, continued to work and juggle, then got diagnosis with MS. Through all of that, I was there for others, always. I was seen as the strong one who ‘could handle it.’ And I do handle it, fairly well. My MS is benign; invisible; sensory rather than motor; emotional rather than physical; cognitive rather than visible. I have a wonderful husband who does much more than his fair share of household duties because I can’t get things done. I lost my wonderful career because I can’t learn knew things, or organize my time, or remember names and dates. My pension is slightly reduced because I had to leave my job.

We have enough, and I am grateful for that. But when my whole family goes on a vacation together to celebrate one of us getting a promotion, I can’t go because we can’t afford it. We have enough because we live frugally. I feel the silent accusation of not ‘being sociable.’ I feel the scorn for paying bills rather than spending money to travel with the family. I have pain, I have the sorrow of loss, and worst of all, I have resentment. I have love, and I share love.

What would I ask for if I could find the words? I would ask for physical help with household tasks. I would ask for friendly visits from family members. I would ask for understanding when we can’t spend as they spend. I would not ask for money. I would not ask for pity.

Maybe it is best that I cannot find the words to ask for anything. We have enough. We have each other, and we have love, and a home where we are safe and happy together.

“I am not perfect,” Carl Rogers wrote many years ago, “but I am human, and that is enough.” I have my flaws, my envy, my needs. I can understand others’ flaws and needs, too, and do my best to accommodate them. That is what being human allows me to understand and to do. Others cannot do what they do not have within themselves to do. I cannot ask them to do more.

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