Ever have a hard time asking for help? You’re not alone.
In a short Batman flick I watched with my kids, Superman attempts to persuade the stoic caped crusader to join his powerhouse team of heroes: the Justice League. At first, Batman resists recruitment, insisting he is completely self-sufficient; he can keep Gotham City safe all by himself.
In my first years of military life, I could totally relate to Batman’s desire to do life alone. When my husband deployed shortly after we arrived at our first duty station, I thought I had to prove my strength by doing everything on my own.
Like Batman, I was driven by a need to be independent. I was afraid others would look down on me if I asked for help. I learned the hard way that living with this mindset only hurts my family and myself. One morning, I could not get out of bed. I couldn’t get up and go to my crying infant due to the weight of depression. Picking up the phone to seek support from a professional was one of the hardest — and best — decisions I’ve ever made.
After plenty of tears, loneliness, heartache and personal failures, I finally realized asking for help…
…is a sign of personal strength.
Recognizing and confronting our own vulnerabilities as human beings takes maturity and courage. We can become our own superheroes by allowing ourselves to seek the assistance we need to overcome the challenges of military life.
…enhances our ability to empathize and help others.
When I joined a support group for moms on base, I quickly learned I am not alone in my struggles and that other spouses can benefit from my experiences, too. As I watched new friends go through painful deployments, I realized I could anticipate their feelings of loneliness during holidays and anniversaries. As the special dates drew nearer, I put together individualized care packages, invited them over for dinner and tried my best to be the kind of friend I wish I’d had during my husband’s first tour in the Middle East.
…models healthy behavior to our children.
Children learn by watching the adults around them. Kids who see their parents reaching out for assistance when necessary are apt to accept support when they need it. We can be superheroes to our kids by taking Batman’s example and modeling healthy behavior.
…forges bonds of friendship.
In the movie, Batman continues to work solo until Superman and his friends begin disappearing one after another. Eventually, he realizes he must call on other crime fighting gurus, like the Flash and Aquaman, for help in order to track down the mysterious culprit.
While we may not have mysterious culprits to track down, for moms and dads in military families, asking for help is a great way to form bonds of friendship that will help them through hard times. I ended up meeting one of my best friends simply by exchanging babysitting services with another spouse in need. We can form our own leagues of superheroes by tearing down our walls and letting others in.
Ultimately, Batman decides to join the Justice League after all. According to the typically solo superhero, “of course, there’s no shame in asking for help. That’s why the League exists. Because there’s some problems even we can’t handle individually.”
If Batman can ask for help, we can too.
—written by Courtney Woodruff, for Chameleon Kids
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