Help

I was at a friend’s house yesterday. She’s got a little boy the same age as Jenson and has really hurt her back. She’s in agony and I’ve come over to help her during the day.

I’m not saying this to get brownie points for how awesome I am, I’m sharing this because it’s given me a lovely glimpse into what a gift it is to accept the help of other people.

When she was in the most early agonising moments of her injury, I offered to come over to do what I could do help her and she was reluctant to accept the help. She said she couldn’t accept my help. Like me, she’s a strong, independent and giving person who is more used to being the helper and is uncomfortable needing to lean on other people.

She’s probably even more strong, independent and giving than I am. I’ve practically lived at her house since our boys were born and she has invited Gregg and I over for dinner so often. Honestly, she’s cooked for us more than I have cooked at all since giving birth to Jenson! She’s been super thoughtful in sourcing special breastfeeding remedies for me to help with the troubles I’ve been having and is one of my biggest cheerleaders on my journey as a Mum.

So when she injured her back, I wanted to support her as best I could. And it was, to be honest, really frustrating to have her reject my offers of help due to her discomfort at needing to lean on other people.

My help was a gift I could give back to her in the face of all the kindness she has shown me and I was delighted when she messaged me to take me up on my offer of help.

It was a lovely day. Catching up, talking about our hopes for the boys, dreaming of travels and helping her, here and there, to lift her son or soothe him when he needed a jig around the room.

Helping someone I want to help is a pleasure.

So if I turn this around and think about how I often turn down help because of the discomfort I feel being ‘needy’, I see that I’m depriving people of a chance to feel special, to give back in and to get closer to me as they see me vulnerable and in need of a helping hand.

I’m sure this experience isn’t going to bring about a massive shift in me overnight and I doubt I’ll feel absolutely at ease accepting help going forward. But at least I’ll have a very good example to draw from about how good it feels when someone allows you to help them and I hope it will allow me to say ‘thank you so much, I’d love to accept your help’ more often.

Accepting help

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.

Rejection

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.

Unworthiness

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?

Vulnerable

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.

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