Please welcome back celebrity blogger Marla Sokoloff!
Known for her roles as Cokie Mason in The Baby-Sitters Club movie, Lucy Hatcher on The Practice and bad girl Gia on Full House and Fuller House, Sokoloff most recently starred in the latter’s third season.
She has also appeared on Desperate Housewives, The Fosters and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as in comedies like Dude, Where’s My Car? and Sugar & Spice. She is currently developing a film whose screenplay she wrote herself.
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We are just a few months into 2018, and I believe that my biggest lesson has already been learned: accepting help does not equal weakness. Your village exists for a reason and when they come to you, wanting to help you in your time of need … IT’S OKAY TO SAY YES.
The past few months have been a little rocky for our family. While vacationing in Mexico over the Christmas break, my husband started to experience tightness and swelling in his arm. We, of course, chalked it up to some sort of allergic reaction, but by the time we got to the airport to head home, his entire arm was completely purple. Clearly we were in denial, and this was not an allergic reaction.
We decided to brave the flight home and get him to a hospital in Los Angeles upon arrival. (Yes, in hindsight, not the smartest move, but at the time it felt right.)
I panicked the entire flight: What in the world could this be? My mind went to some scary places, but I did my very best to keep things calm for my girls and my husband, who was having his own internal panic.
After many tests and a very telling ultrasound, we found out that he had a blood clot in his chest. When you go directly from drinking margaritas on the beach to facing a scary health crisis all within a few hours, it sure comes as a real shock. The shock was honestly so strong that I went into some state of denial. I put on my big-girl pants and a brave face for our girls, and put a plan into action.
Multiple surgeries later, my husband was put in the ICU for over a week before he was moved to a less-critical floor to recover. I would stay with him as long as I could before my “mommy voice” would take over, causing me to get back home to the two who needed me the most.
In their own childlike way, they were experiencing their own panic. Daddy being gone was difficult and scary. Instead of asking the questions I knew they wanted to, their concern would come out in the form of tantrums over lost toys or ripped artwork. Anything and everything would set them off, and I completely understood why.
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My friends and family were incredible. I couldn’t even try to guess how many offers of help flew in on the daily. “Can I pick up the girls from school?” “Can I drop off dinner?” “I’m close to the hospital, what can I bring you?” “Does your dog need a walk?” “If you need a break, I’m happy to sit at the hospital with you.” This is just a sampling of the many kind and concerned texts I would receive every day.
My answer was always the same: “Thank you so much for the generous offer, I’m good!” The truth was, I wasn’t good. I realized later I was very far from good. I hated being at the hospital alone (I even told my sweet mother-in-law she didn’t need to stay for my husband’s six-hour surgery). I thought I was emotionally capable of holding down the fort; no need to trouble anyone.
I, of course, could have used the help with my girls, but saying yes to the possibility of putting someone out was so incredibly hard for me. I have always known myself to be a “Type A, don’t worry about me, I’ve got this thing” type of girl, but that act quickly became difficult to maintain.
My resistance came in many different forms. Some days I would be short-tempered, other days I would be exuberantly happy causing people to wonder if I was really okay. I would come home to care packages from friends on my doorstep and the anxiety it would cause was not normal — and I knew it.
One day, a good friend of mine took Elliotte ice skating with her daughter after school. Not having to leave my husband to fight the grueling midday L.A. traffic was everything. After ice skating, she took her back to her house and fed her. She bathed her. She even made hot chocolate! The kindness she showed my family was completely overwhelming, but the part of all of this that I was missing all along is that she genuinely wanted to help.
Helping me made her feel good. She didn’t offer hoping I would say no. People want to help in a time of need because that’s how they cope when they feel helpless. It is in our nature to support our friends and family, especially in a crisis. The funny part is she did exactly what I would have done with her daughter had our stories been reversed. So why was this so hard for me?
It became clear to me that I was taking that right away from people because of how it made me feel. I had no clue how on Earth I would repay everyone — not in the monetary sense, but with gratitude. How will I ever let them know how appreciative I was for their generosity? For not listening to me when I said, “I’m good!”? For showing up to my house late at night with a bottle of wine and a hug? For sending insane amounts of delicious food complete with dessert?!
The truth is, I may never be able to ask for help, but I can honestly say that I can now comfortably explore the idea of accepting it.
“It takes a village.” We hear this a lot. Appreciate your village, thank your village, but more importantly … be there for your village, because you never know when you may need the tribe.