Is Twitter Therapy?

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This morning’s trending #IDidntAskForHelpBecause struck a nerve, and I tweeted:

#IDidntAskForHelpBecause I was taught that getting help was cheating. It confirmed you are worthless. Another thing NOT to pass to my kids.”

It made me think.

How did I learn this? Why do I attach shame to asking for help? Am I alone? The more tweets I read, the more echoed mine. I remember the moment I learned this.

A lovely woman, Nella Weller, wanted kids at my church to memorize bible verses. The church was offering a “Timothy Award” for accomplishing this. My stepbrother (who has a photographic memory) had won this award.

Memorizing things is not my forte. I am much better at paraphrasing, and I didn’t even plan to try.

Mrs. Weller invited me to her house. She would help me and some other kids learn all the verses. She was right. When I applied myself, I was able to memorize them, although the only one I still remember is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.” Perhaps I’m paraphrasing again, but that’s how I remember it.

I won the award. I was proud of myself, because memorizing things is such a challenge.

My stepmother observed my pride and set me straight. My award was not fairly earned because I’d had help whereas my stepbrother hadn’t. His award meant he was special, but mine only revealed weakness. I felt ashamed of my pride, as if I had cheated and lied to get an undeserved reward. I threw the award away, and I still cringe at the memory.

Pulling this thorn would be helpful to me. I wish I could unlearn that lesson. We all need to give and receive help at times. Shame shouldn’t be the currency. Rather, when you receive help, you give others help in turn. What good does shame do anyone?

Do you feel shame asking for help? Do you feel like you’re cheating if you get help?

Twitter tip: If you’re on twitter, and you want to join a free-for-all hashtag party, skim the “Trends” list and see if anything intrigues you. If a hashtag like the one above catches your eye, click on it. Read a few. Like a few. Think about what you’d say. Can you be funny or real or both? Can you add something new? Whether yes or no, you can join the conversation. Everyone is welcome. Use the hashtag, and your tweet will join others. Your words may help others feel validated. I connect with new people that way. My handle is @BrendaDHarsham. I’m happy to connect with you there.

47 thoughts on “Is Twitter Therapy?

  1. Mmm…that was an unpleasant experience for you…it’s amazing how these little moments in life effect us greatly for so long. I think I have a tendency not to ask for help too. Largely because I tend to be an independent thinker, and that makes me independent in a lot of things. But now that you’ve mentioned shaming, I do actually remember a number of teachers at my primary school who made me feel I was a total idiot for not understanding the first time round and needing ask for more help. Which is pretty disgusting behaviour for a teacher – isn’t that the point in what a teacher is for?! So maybe there is more to my independent thinking than I first thought. Thanks for a thought provoking post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It takes away our ability to learn from failure if we can’t process and discuss it. We shouldn’t have to hide it out of shame. Failure means we stretched. We were living as we were meant to. Not settling for whatever comes our way.

      My son is fond of telling me how many times it took Edison to invent the lightbulb. The number keeps getting bigger every time he tells me the story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the older generation thinks we must pull ourselves up with our bootstraps. I feel bad your stepmother really used an unreasonable “ruler” to measure you with. I have an artistic, creative daughter who can do trigonometry but spelling and reading are stumbling blocks. She has so many bad memories of spelling bees and reading aloud in class times. If I could have set her teachers “straight” I would have but unfortunately this sometimes works the opposite way. Feeling bad for the young and proud Brenda who was berated. 😦 So glad she evolved and is kinder to your children. Maybe your stepbrother also regrets his mother being rather thoughtless (almost cruel!)

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  3. I would find it hard to like your stepmother, and that is not an easy thing to admit. But every child and person should be complimented on merely trying to get somewhere as that is often the process that teaches us about life and those around you. I am sorry you had such a tough time.
    Brenda, I have a copy of the chapter book to post to you. Just send me your email address, I’m at matthewsmaria92@yahoo.com

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  4. How horrible to be put down like that. I don’t recall any lessons/instructions re asking for help, but I have asked for help for as long as I can remember. When I was about 10 I desperately wanted to go on a ferris wheel ride at our local park. ( forgive me if I have told this story before) My parents said I could go to the fair (and take my little sister with me) but on no account was I/we to go on the ferris wheel. It was considered very unsafe. But the temptation was too great. I decided I could go on the ride but I should not risk the life of my sister. So I looked around, spotted a couple of policemen, and promptly went up and asked them if they would look after my sister whilst I went on the ride. They said, yes! I hated the ride. It made me feel sick. Worse, when I got off the ride, I couldn’t see the policemen or my sister. Eventually I found them….phew. They were having a great time. My sister was enjoying her ride in the big arms of a policeman. I swore my sister to secrecy but, of course, as she was only 3 that was too much to ask. The story came out as soon as we got home. I don’t remember being punished. The general consensus I think was thatat least I had asked for help ……and it’s a story which prompts much laughter in our family. I think not enjoying the ride was considered sufficient punishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not that fond of ferris wheels either, they are too slow. LOL Although, it is fun being up high. Amazing that you were allowed at 10 to be responsible for yourself and a three-year old sister at a fair. No one lets kids have that much responsibility here, ever. It’s kind of sad, actually. I’m glad you were allowed to ask for help. You get to push against limitations if you can enlist the help of others.

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  5. I was taught the same thing but not because of being worthless but because it made you tough and strong and you didn’t owe anyone anything. It was an good and wonderful thing to never ask for help. It’s worked for me my entire life. I feel strong and capable. I guess it’s all about the way it’s taught, not the thing itself. Doing things by yourself was celebrated in my house. It taught me to be creative and work things out for myself. I appreciate being taught to not ask for help so very much. Being an only child, it was important to be able to take care of myself. 🙂 It was simply something that was expected of everyone.

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  6. Wow, this is crazy! I’m not on Twitter, but I’ve never heard of such a thing. I have a special needs daughter, and we’ve taken years to teach her to ask for help!! She’s very high functioning and stubborn to boot and never wants to, therefore often gets stuck in awful situations. I tell her that asking for help is NOTHING to be ashamed of, and something I do quite frequently. When I was a paramedic, if I was in the middle of a call where I felt stuck, I NEVER had a problem calling med control (the doctor) on the radio and asked FOR HELP. Someone’s life could depend on it for goodness sake. Gosh Google would be out of business if no-one asked for help! This is the silliest thing I ever hear of honestly…. I’m so sorry you had this experience and it’s stayed with you all these years. Some religions build their foundation on shame and feeling guilty I’m afraid. 😦 I say: ask away if you don’t know something! Knowledge is power!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like 2 join in those hashtag parties sometimes too Brenda, and i wanna give you the ‘Brenda’ award for being the first person ever to describe to anyone how to participate in a tweet hashtag trending party! That was so helpful of you! Katya444ever is my handle btw 😃

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  8. That was a horrible view for your stepmother to have. It was a huge accomplishment for you to work at something which was not in your comfort zone! Even if you hadn’t won the prize, she should have been proud of you for working so hard.
    I used to teach fifth grade and one of the life lessons I tried to emphasize was putting effort into areas that were not your natural best — if you are pretty or naturally athletic, that’s great, but what else can you do? If you only work in areas that you’re naturally good at, what are you going to do when you compete with a whole lot of people just as good as you? Can you keep going if you fail at something? Most of these lessons were aimed more at the parents when they came in for teacher conferences — if they don’t let a fifth grader learn how to work around difficulties now, they are not going to have a clue what to do when they face competition for college admissions or a job. The lesson you learned while trying to memorize verses was much more useful in life than your stepbrother’s showing he could do it easily. But sadly, due to your stepmother’s remark, that was not the lesson you took from it!
    I was not the best teacher in the world, but one thing I am proud of, is that when a kid was having trouble with grammar or math, I would say, “Help ME figure out what is giving you trouble. What am I not seeing? What is wrong with the directions that makes them unclear?” Having them help ME helped them stick with the problem longer. When they could explain the way they saw the problem, I could see where to build that bridge of understanding.

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