July 4, 2017

I hate asking for help. I hate putting my problems onto other people. I have no problem getting up at 4:00 a.m. to take you to the airport or looking after your dog for a week or watching your kids for an evening.  But I hate the idea of even asking someone for an hour of their time.

But when you are a military spouse, you have to get over this. You move somewhere and you know no one. You don’t have your set family or friends there. And as much as you want to, you can’t do it all on your own.

So, the people you have just met become your emergency contacts. They become the ones you ask for advice and recommendations and help moving in. They’re the ones you call when your spouse is out to sea and your car breaks down or you need a ride to the doctor.

I met a girl one day and ended up helping her with her movers the very next day. She had just moved to Hawaii. Her husband was out to sea and she has two little kids. There was no way she could have handled moving into her house all on her own. I know that she hated to ask someone she just met to spend the entire day helping her move in. But I was so happy to do that for her, so I didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

The flood

About a month ago, Nick was out to sea. I spent the day on the north shore with my friend Erinn who was visiting and two other friends who live here. We were just sitting down to eat lunch when my landlord called. He told me that my apartment flooded, that I would need to assess damage when I got home.  I asked him if I needed to go home right away. He said no. He himself hadn’t seen the flood yet so he didn’t know how bad it was, but he said that professionals were there assessing the situation.

Later that day, I dropped off my local friends and then Erinn and I walked into my apartment building. This is a taste of what I came home to:

Finding Ithaka Flood-3The carpets were ripped up. My furniture was on little stands. Everything that had been on the floor was moved. The books were off of my bookshelves. Clothes and sheets and towels were wet, tossed in the bathtub. My files were in the bathroom because that’s the only place they were able to dry out. It looked like a tornado had swept through my apartment.

This was not what I was expecting. All I could think was that Nick was not there to help me.

This was on me to figure out.

Trying to remain calm, I called my landlord. He was there within 5 minutes, and the cleaners came to talk to me, too. My landlord asked me if I would want to go to a hotel. I had no desire to go to a hotel. Whatever hotel room they got me would likely be far from where I live, which would be very inconvenient. Plus, it looked like I had about 10 loads of laundry to get through and that would be really annoying in a hotel.


The cleaners told me that the water was ankle deep when they first got there. They were well on their way to drying it all up by the time I got home.

I felt really calm. I wasn’t worried about anything, probably because I had already gone through losing all of my stuff in the Mold Disaster of 2016 and I knew everything would turn out ok. I was jut overwhelmed and I didn’t know how I was going to handle all of this without Nick around.

They told me to take out everything I needed because I would not be able to access the apartment for a week. They told me they would section off each room, heat it to 100 degrees, and run dehumidifiers to dry everything out.

The living room was the only section of the apartment that did not flood, they told me to put food, electronics, pictures, candles, medicines, and some other things over there so that they would not overheat. I had to wash all the dishes in the sink and get ready to leave the apartment for a week.

Oh and I was set to go to the Big Island in one day, so I had to get everything I needed for that trip ready, too.

One of the girls I spent the day with was having us all over for dinner that night. A group of us has been watching The Handmaid’s Tale together, so she was making us dinner and then we were going to watch an episode. I sent everyone in the group pictures of my apartment and I called up the girl who was having us over. I asked her if I could stay at her house for a few days. I asked her because her husband was also out to sea. Of course, she said yes.

I had just met this girl 3 weeks prior.

I told her that I needed about an hour to get my stuff together and that everyone should just eat and watch the show without us. She offered to help, but of course I said no.

I hung up with my friend. I looked around my apartment. There was no way Erinn and I could do everything in an hour. I thought about calling my friends over to help. I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s Friday night. But I needed help.

 4 minutes later

I called her back and asked her to come. 20 minutes later, 3 girls were at my house. It took the 5 of us over an hour to do everything. They helped me move everything, they took apart my computer and moved it to my living room so it wouldn’t overheat, and they went through my closets to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

We loaded up my wet clothes in my friend’s car. One friend poured me sangria. Another did all of my laundry for me. We ate dinner together and watched an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale and it ended up being a fun night. If I had tried to do that all on my own, it would have taken all night and it would have been so overwhelming. These girls saved me.

Fast forward one week. 

Erinn and I came back from the Big Island. The apartment was dried out, but everything was a mess. I knew that Erinn and I wouldn’t even be able to sleep in my apartment without some serious work.

Finding Ithaka Flood

So I asked those same girls to come over again to help me put things away. My bookshelves got damaged, but thankfully all of the books were okay! So, we had to take the bookshelves apart and throw them away. That’s pretty much all we lost.

We had to put everything back to somewhat normalcy so that I could walk around and sit on my couch. They put my food back in my pantry and cleaned up my kitchen.age

We got to a point where the apartment was livable, so I thanked them and told them I could finish up from there. I still had many hours of work ahead of me, but they had done so much for me. I tried to buy everyone lunch as a thank-you, but they wouldn’t let me.

Then my friend’s husband came over to help me set up the Internet. Cause I have no idea how to do that.

A few weeks later, the apartment is cleaned up. Some construction is still going on, but it’s not too bad.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help when you need it. It doesn’t matter if you are a military spouse or not. Chances are, people really do want to help you out. Anyone I have ever asked for a favor is more than happy to help me out.

And, anyone I have ever asked for help with something they are good a (like helping me edit something), jumps at the chance to share what they know with me.

Ask for help. Trying to do it all on your own will just make things worse. It will just make you more tired and frustrated. And chances are, your family and friends will ask you why you didn’t call them.

Have you ever been in a situation like this?
Is it hard for you to ask for help?


8 responses to “On Asking for Help”

  1. Rachel says:

    We are learning this one fast, too! It feels so uncomfortable to ask sometimes, but I always love helping other people. I’m sorry your flat got so trashed, I hope it’s all ok now. Thank goodness nothing irreplaceable got damaged!

  2. Amanda says:

    Oh my gosh I’m so sorry about your apartment. That is so frustrating and stressful. I’m so glad you had people you could call to ask for help. It is hard to ask sometimes, but you’re right: people really are happy to help if there’s a need! We just can’t help if we don’t know how. Good reminder!

  3. Oh my goodness, what a stressful experience! I don’t think I would have been able to handle it as calmly as you did, so kudos. So sorry you went through this, but I’m so glad you asked for help and got it!

  4. Jen says:

    What a stressful thing to have to deal but you are amazing! Like you said it doesn’t hurt to ask for help and I’m so glad that those you reached out to were willing to help.

  5. Audrey says:

    What a great message, Carolann! And what wonderful friends!! I’m so sorry that water disasters keep following you around 🙁 Way to stay calm and make the best of the situation and handle it all like a boss! You’re such a strong person!!

  6. I’m seriously so glad that everything ended up working out for you and that you were able to ask your friends for help. I feel the same way about asking for help, I absolutely hate it. I think that it’s slightly because I feel like it’s a weakness, which is 100% not true. There are definitely certain situations in your life that you need help though, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it!

  7. Katie says:

    I agree, it’s so hard to ask for help – but I’m sure your friends were more than happy to help. So glad everything worked out!

  8. Julie says:

    Oh dang! I had no idea your apartment got flooded. Argh. I’m notoriously bad for asking for help and I definitely need to learn to do that more and realize that asking for help is not a weakness but a strength. I’m glad the girls were able to help you out!!

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