I wrote recently about how having Jenson, my son, is teaching me more about asking for help (and being ok relying on others) than I could have ever imagined. And I feel like this will be the lesson for me in 2018, being ok asking for help and also being ok with being specific about what help I need.
My lovely parents-in-law are here in Brighton visiting for a week – partly to spend time with Jenson, their first grandchild and to also give us some support and help as we transition into parenthood.
I’ve been surprised with how hard I’ve found it to even contemplate being specific about what they, particularly Kathryn, can do to help me.
Partly it’s because I feel awkward asking her to clean my bathroom or wash my bedsheets – things that I feel shouldn’t be up to other people to do (but things she has specifically said she’ll do if it would help us). But when I ask myself what else is underneath it, there are some specific things which are making me feel uncomfortable making the requests.
Yes, I’m afraid of rejection. Afraid that I’ll ask for something and it will get slapped down or I’ll get laughed at for asking for what I need. It’s easier to just be a lone island, to be completely self-sufficient, than to risk having my requests (and by association, me) rejected by others.
There is part of me that also doesn’t feel worthy of such practical displays of support and affection from other people. It makes me feel uncomfortable to need other people. I’m used to being ‘strong’, used to being the helper, and so this new reality is challenging who I am and what my use is in this world. It’s making me ask hard questions – am I worthy of people just doing things for me out of love where nothing is expected back?
When people help me, I feel vulnerable. Like Katniss in the Hunger Games (apologies if you’re not a fan, I bloody love these books!) who has the need to repay every good deed done to her, I feel that every good deed done to me has a price which will one day need to be paid back. And not knowing the price that will need to be paid, the deed which will need to be done, I’d rather just cope alone. It makes me feel vulnerable.
But I want to trust that these acts of kindness can be just that – acts of kindness – with no price to pay back, no expectation from anyone else. And I want to feel able to show others my vulnerability.
So there are lots of things under the simple acceptance of help from other people – things I know I will need to unpack. But for now I feel that it’s simply ok to acknowledge them, to know they are there, and perhaps just by knowing this, I won’t be as enslaved by them.