Strength and Vulnerability – I am often told how strong I am, and usually I embrace that quality. However, as I struggle right now to move forward after experiencing a horrible tragedy in my life, I don’t want to be strong anymore. I want to crumble and not get up. But I must go on. And because I’m strong, I will.
What I have found during this time is how to lean in and allow others to support me. How to be vulnerable and not afraid of my need for help.
I am learning to be less independent and that is hard for me, and I imagine it is for all strong women.
If you are recovering from a financially abusive relationship, or even still living in one, you are strong, too. And if you are either trying to leave or trying to get back on your feet, you need help.
It is time to learn to be vulnerable. It is time to lean in and allow others to help you.
This may seem scary at first; trust me, I know. But doing it will bring you additional strength. It will give you the fortitude and back up you need when you waiver. Moving out of a financially abusive relationship is challenging and doing it alone is not necessary.
Learning to accept help is the first step. People are there to support you even if you don’t see it. Likely they are outright offering. Listen, pay attention. What is it they are offering? Is it what you need? Probably. At least some of it is even if you don’t realize it.
Don’t feel obligated to accept help if it doesn’t feel right, but be open because sometimes you don’t know what you need, but they do. I have learned that everyone offers you what they are able to give. Accept what you can as it honors their wish to help.
When you accept help, you are saying, “Thank you for loving and supporting me.”
Remember, you can always pay it forward later.
The second step is learning to ask for what you need. This one is particularly challenging for strong, independent women. Partially because we are used to taking care of ourselves and don’t like being dependent on anyone, and partially because it means figuring out how to ask and what to ask for.
Independence is great a lot of the time. Being able to take care of yourself will give you the strength you need to leave a financially abusive relationship.
Learning to open up and be vulnerable is where the true depth of your heart lies.
It isn’t easy. Realizing not only that you need help, but that it’s okay to ask for it, is freeing. Struggling through challenges on your own is not a sign of strength. Learning to be vulnerable and ask for help is where the true strength lies.
However, it’s also critical that you learn to figure out what you need to ask for. This seems obvious, but it isn’t always. Stop and take a moment to assess where you are first. What is it that you are struggling with? Where are you hitting your head against the wall?
Once you evaluate what it is that is holding you up, you can find the gumption to ask for the help you need. The more specific you can be in your request, the more likely you are to feel supported and loved by the response you get to your request. People want to help. But they might help in the way they would want to be helped, which may not be the way that you want to be helped. I find reviewing the “five love languages” (as described in Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts) helpful.
For example, I’m a physical touch and acts of service person. When someone comes over and cooks me dinner, I’m thrilled (I also don’t like to cook so it’s a double win). However, if a friend is a quality time person, they may think that coming over and sitting with you is enough. It would be for them, so they don’t realize that your needs may be different. Be specific, ask for exactly what you need. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries or speak up if they aren’t offering you what helps you. In this case, asking the friend to cook you dinner while you sit with them and chat might work just fine.
The last piece of asking for what you need is figuring out, if you can, who the best person to ask would be. In each case there might be different people who would be better to ask.
You may not know everyone else’s love language so you might not be able to predict which person can best assist. However, sometimes just by knowing specifically what it is you need you can decide who would be best to ask. For example, if you are needing to move, asking a friend with a truck to help makes the most sense. Truck owners expect to get asked and usually don’t mind accommodating.
The bottom line is that when you ask and accept help, you create a win-win.
You get the support you need. Meanwhile, the person giving feels good because they are showing up for you with love, and you are accepting their offering.
Being strong and independent doesn’t mean fighting uphill alone. We all need one another, and it is in our nature to nurture and support. Allowing others to be there for you is offering them a gift. Be open and vulnerable, and allow yourself to receive their love.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse