We are invisible. The same people, who gratefully accepted help pushing a carriage through a doorway, did not seem to see that someone manipulating a wheelchair through the same space would appreciate the same help. Whether it is going through a doorway, lifting a wheelchair into a car or even just pushing a person in a chair, those around us very often do not see that we need help.
“Ann although I have someone in Brooklyn pushing the wheelchair every Shabbosso my husband can go to shul, I didn’t have that [where I was staying]. So I pushed the wheelchair to shul myself, and passed [many] frummen. Not one offered to help me.”
” This past Monday I took him to a doctor in the city, and when I left the office not one person got up to hold the door open for me when I pushed the wheelchair through.”
How many times have you heard female friends say, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?” When what she wants to say is, “Would you mind opening a window?” How many times has a woman asked her companion if he is thirsty because she really is and is then surprised and upset when she isn’t offered a drink as a response? Only to hear him say later, “how was I to know you wanted a drink? You didn’t ask!”
Caregivers, especially female ones, need to become more comfortable with asking directly for the help they need. They need to ask before they get angry because their needs are not seen. They need to ask before they become incredulous that no one is reading their minds. And they need to practice asking and asking directly. It is not easy for most of us and that is why we need to practice. There is always the chance that the answer to our request for help will be “No.” And that will make asking again even more difficult. But what is the alternative?
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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