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-   -   I can't accept help... (https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/adult-children-addicted-alcoholic-parents/187487-i-cant-accept-help.html)

dolce7dolore 10-30-2009 09:53 PM

I can't accept help...
 
Well, it's probably more like won't. This will be probably my lightest thread here, so that's probably a good thing.

What I'm having problems with isn't my parents (I feel content with that for now), but the behavior they've given to me, and the way I interact with others. I know that accepting help is hard for we ACoAs. Accepting help means you give someone the chance to be there for you, and we've learned that others CAN'T be there for us, so we don't give these chances. We tend to not let people be there for us because it's easier than being let down. I know all of this, but I still have problems. I can't even accept help for the smallest of things...

I actually am a rather sociable person (I can't do intimacy, but I can do the acquaintance thing very well), and awhile ago I met this guy at an extracurricular activity thing. It's for a language course, and I bluntly asked him if he tutored (I need as much help as I can get), thinking he probably did. He didn't, but he offered to help me anyway. He did sound enthusiastic, but I thought it was just one of the socially polite moments. Then a week later, he brought it up again. I told him I would pay him, but he refused. I was under the impression that he may have been attracted to me, and so it really did (and still does) feel like I am using him. So even after his second offer, I didn't really take him up on it until a friend pushed me to ask him (one of those... I thought the other person was supposed to talk about it moments). So I texted him about it, and he called me about 30 minutes later.

So we ended up having a tutoring session and I paid him with some stuff that I baked. He was overwhelmed and said it was payment for like three more sessions. I kept making a fuss about how badly I was feeling for "using" him. He had to say both that I shouldn't make such a big thanks about it, since I really was, and that if he really didn't want to be there, he would have made excuses like not having enough time. These are things I KNOW, things that I pick up on, yet I still feel bad accepting help with nothing in return. It's such an unfathomable concept to me. Honestly that feeling makes me uncomfortable.

tromboneliness 10-31-2009 03:36 AM


Originally Posted by dolce7dolore (Post 2416532)
I actually am a rather sociable person (I can't do intimacy, but I can do the acquaintance thing very well), and awhile ago I met this guy at an extracurricular activity thing. It's for a language course, and I bluntly asked him if he tutored (I need as much help as I can get), thinking he probably did. He didn't, but he offered to help me anyway. He did sound enthusiastic, but I thought it was just one of the socially polite moments. Then a week later, he brought it up again. I told him I would pay him, but he refused. I was under the impression that he may have been attracted to me, and so it really did (and still does) feel like I am using him.... These are things I KNOW, things that I pick up on, yet I still feel bad accepting help with nothing in return. It's such an unfathomable concept to me. Honestly that feeling makes me uncomfortable.

I think you're handling this well. Treating it as a business transaction (of a sort) makes certain that you both know where the other is coming from, and nobody feels used.

I'm a scratch tournament bowler, and I have a coach, with whom I take a lesson every so often -- for which I insist on paying him the same amount I used to pay another coach in another state. My current coach is sort of an elder-statesman type, likes to pass his knowledge and experience along to younger bowlers, and he'd happily do it for nothing -- but I insist on paying him, because this way, I feel as though I can call him as often as I need to, and take as much of his time as I want at a lesson, without feeling obligated. He's very generous with his time, and I could take advantage of that if I wanted -- but I like it better this way.

I'm not sure there's that much of an ACA issue here -- or if there is, you're doing a good job with it. If the guy is attracted to you, well, that's obviously a whole 'nother thing -- but it's one that makes it even more of a good idea to pay him for tutoring you.

As Freud is supposed to have said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar -- and not everything in our lives necessarily boils down to our ACA issues. Or maybe I'm just in denial about this one -- who can say? :wtf2

T

DesertEyes 10-31-2009 09:14 AM

Hey dolce :)

Congratulations on allowing somebody to help you. Sounds like a wonderful bit of growth to me.

Do _you_ like to help others? I dunno about you but it makes _me_ feel useful and valuable when I can be of service to somebody else. It's a roundabout way of proving to myself that I am _not_ like my alcoholic parents, who were takers and never givers.

Due to my ill health I have been forced to let others do things for me. Lots of things. So it's not like I have grown along spiritual lines in this area, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming ;)

I think the hardest lesson was one time I was getting out of the hospital and my sponsor brought a whole gaggle of cute young ladies from his wife's women's meeting. Very cute, very attractive, all single, happy, bubbly, active young Las Vegas ladies. And _I_ looked like something come out of a haloween movie.

They pushed the wheelchair for me, opened doors for me, helped me into the car, even buckled the seat belt for me. And with my sponsor watching closely there would be no refusing help. My "macho ego" took a beating that day.

What my sponsor taught me is that those women felt _good_ when they were able to help me. It helped _them_ prove to themselves that they were _not_ like their own alcoholic parents. What I had been doing, by refusing help, was keeping those good feelings to myself and not sharing. When I let others help me, I am giving _them_ the opportunity to feel good about themselves.

Some day I'll get to be good at this. But for today I am making progress and slowly getting better at it. Like you noted, there are some people that I wonder if they have ulterior motives, so I pass on them. Otherwise, I graciously acknowledge a bit of assistance.

Mike :)

ice17 11-04-2009 03:23 PM

Firstly, i completely understand what you are saying. The fear of being let down often makes us refuse help, especially for ACoA's.

I know this is a bit of topic for the thread, but do you maybe like this guy? Because the way that he is acting implies that he may like you. If you dont like him, then keeping it professional is the best way to go. But if you do like him, insisting on paying him might push him away. But making food is always a good neutral payment and a nice way of saying thank you, whether you like him or not.

dolce7dolore 11-05-2009 07:05 AM

Desert Eyes- I never thought of letting someone help you, helps the other person. Hmm, that's a new perspective for me.

I actually am not very interested in him, and that was part of the reason that I felt bad. I felt like his "payment" was spending time with me to possibly date me. I knew that wasn't going to happen, so that's why I kept trying to pay. I don't know, to me, the idea that someone would help me just because they want to, with nothing in return, is so foreign.

ice17 11-05-2009 12:21 PM

Dolce, if you are not interested, then what you are doing is right. But Desert Eyes does have a point.

So maybe mention a having a boyfriend or tell him you are interested in someone? This implies to him that you consider him more of a friend. Then wait a while and mention the payment thing again. If he does take payment, then it may mean that he liked you, but if he still doesnt take payment, then he may just be a really nice person. Im not saying this will definately work, or that if he still doesn't take payment he doesnt like you, but its what i would do. :).

GingerM 11-06-2009 04:46 PM


the idea that someone would help me just because they want to, with nothing in return, is so foreign.
Do you do things to help other people simply because you can? If not, you might try it - something simple, like opening a door for someone who has their hands full or offering to carry a grocery bag for someone. Nothing big, nothing fancy.

If you do these things already for people, do you expect them to grovel their thanks to you? Would you feel comfortable if you opened a door for me when I had my hands full and I dropped everything and fell to my knees thanking you profusely, then, every time I saw you I thanked you again? Would that seem odd, and maybe even a little creepy to you?

Sometimes it helps to look at it from the other person's point of view. Maybe his gender has nothing to do with it at all. I enjoy helping people learn things. I enjoy learning things. I am as happy to help a male as a female. I have tutored plenty of people. I've made websites for people who needed them without asking for payment because I like the person (so far 2 males, 1 female - I am female). I did it because I knew they would appreciate it. I didn't want to date either of the males (one is happily married, one is married, if not happily, and I am quite happily married).

I have opened my house to people who needed it, I have "loaned" money (actually given it, as I never expect to be repaid and never "loan" more than I can give), I have given my old cars to friends whose cars were dangerous and desperately needed less dangerous transportation. I did not ever want anything back from any of these people. I did it because it made ME feel good (and as you know, it's all about ME).

The woman whose website I built asked me what she could possibly do to thank me for all the work (which is ongoing, and will be until she either takes it down or gets a pro to do it for her). I told her "be my friend." She was raised to believe that nothing is free and that people won't do nice things for her just because they want to. She was uncomfortable with it until I finally gave her something she could do for me that would be a small thing to her but HUGE for me. But I only did this because I could tell I was making her uncomfortable and knew that until she felt the "score" was even, our relationship would continue to be ... weird. Now she's happy and I'm happy she's happy and all is well.

It sounds to me as if this person is happy to offer you help. Maybe he's lonely for socialization? Maybe he lives by himself and having someone to spend an evening with, perfectly platonically, is enjoyable for him. Maybe he's trying to broaden his circle of friends. I would be very careful in assigning motives to him unless he's made very clear statements about them. The last time I did that with a man, I ended up looking the fool when he told me he was gay. It is very much possible that he simply is doing something he enjoys doing for the simple sake of doing it.

kittykitty 11-11-2009 08:36 AM

I, for one, have the exact problem you guys are speaking of. I can't let ANYONE do anything for me, without the terror of imagining what they might want in return. I end up feeling so obligated to the person, I've actually lost friendships because I have confronted people about their "intentions" and how it is just wrong for anyone to want to do things for other people without anything in return.

I wish I could stop feeling this way, it's gotten to the point where I have even convinced my boyfriend that a long time friend of his is a threat to us because of how nice she is to him. Nevermind that she does it for everyone, I am so focused on what she will someday ask for in return from him that I have convinced myself and him that she is evil. What is the matter with me?

I never would have thought this aspect of my personality had anything to do with being raised by an AF, and I still can't pinpoint what part of my relationship with him encouraged these feelings, like it is supposed to be as easy as "yeah I remember that time he sat me down and told me, no one does anything without something in return". Of course that never happened. I just know when I read these types of posts, I find myself saying 'oh my god, that's me they are talking about...'

All I know is it's a great way to loose some potential 'quality people' in your life. The people that are kind and giving 'just because' are the kind of people we need in our lives. The worst part is, we find ourselves accepting those 'other' kind of people, the ones that _always_ want something in return, and those are usually the ones we need to stay away from most.

dothi 11-11-2009 09:03 AM

What about a healthy boundary for these situations?

I remember when I was learning to make friends back in my post-secondary education, my roommate told me not to feel awkward going next door to ask a girl to use her printer. Apparently she was just "that nice". So I sucked it up, went over there, and used her printer a couple times. A couple weeks later that girl came over, knocked on my bedroom door, and wanted to borrow my cell phone RIGHT NOW, even though I was in the middle of a conversation. I asked her (reasonably) to wait to let me wrap up. She got pissed and stormed off. I went to my roommate about why the girl got so upset, and my roommate said to me, "well you borrow her printer don't you." WTF?!?!?! This was exactly what I was trying to avoid!!!!

Next time I saw that girl and she commented that I hadn't come by lately, I explained that I had been using the printer at the school. She offered her printer again and I said no thanks, that I needed to get out of the apartment anyway. I didn't have to say anymore. She got the message that she was not entitled to abuse me in return for a little favour. My boundary was not having someone come into my home and punish me like that for not dropping everything. It was an unbalanced favour. And yes, she let me down. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let one nutty character with entitlement-by-favour issues have that kind of power over me (the power to leave me devastated and disappointed with myself for "being duped again"). So I cut my losses, chalked it up to a learning experience, and moved on.

People are going to disappoint you from time to time. But some people are also going to impress you from time to time. Just because I made a mistake didn't mean I had failed at human relationships - it meant I had encountered one of those disappointing people.

It took me a long time to get this, because for a long time I didn't know how to recognize anything BUT dysfunctional, disappointing people. It took practice finally meeting other people, letting them impress me (not trying to control the situation), to finally learn a healthy response to healthy help. Something I've taken away from those disappointing experiences is that I don't have to spend the time calculating how I will return the favour - I just need to know what I will do if my boundary is crossed.

Just because this girl thought she was being fair that didn't actually mean she was being fair. I knew this because I felt that childhood-triggered abuse in how she demanded I return the favour. Just because someone says it should be this way, doesn't mean I have to accept it. I KNOW what's fair (PhD in dysfunctional families, thank you very much). And if someone crosses my boundary for fairness, I have the right to cut my losses and move on. My boundaries protect me not just from my family, but from other idiots running loose in the world too ;)



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