I’ve written before about how I have trouble asking for and accepting help. It’s an ongoing theme in my life, but this year, I feel, has been a lesson in doing just that.
It’s not so much that I’m this proud, independent single mother who wants to do everything myself; more that I’m terrified of being a horrible burden to the people around me. So historically, even before becoming a single mother, I have avoided asking for help whenever possible. And when it has been offered, I’ve usually refused.
This year, I feel like something has been trying to teach me a lesson around this.
In January 2017, I developed a painful abscess on my side, right under my bra strap. The word “painful” here is something of an understatement; I was unable to sleep from the pain, and it took two courses of antibiotics to get it to disappear. During that time all movement was painful; walking was painful. I didn’t sleep; I couldn’t even sit comfortably because every time I leaned back, it hurt. Again, friends offered to collect S and take her to school for me; they offered me lifts; they offered to bring me shopping. I mostly refused.
Next I had plantar fasciitis in my foot. I went through rolls and rolls of kinesiology tape, taping up my foot so that I could still walk S to and from school by myself. Several times, friends offered to drive S to school for me, or to drive me home from the school run. I mostly refused.
During the summer holidays several friends offered to have S over for a play date so that I could get some work done; they knew I was working from home with no childcare for the entire summer holidays. For the most part, I refused. We had a fun summer, but it was a little stressful in places.
Towards the end of the summer, I visited a consultant about my umbilical hernia. I expected him to laugh me out of the hospital, telling me I was wasting his time. When I was told I would have an operation within six weeks, I panicked. Again, friends offered help – and I knew this time I would have to bite the bullet and accept some help. When I ended up having emergency surgery five days earlier than anticipated, I had to all but hand control of my life and the care of my daughter over to friends, via text message. The day I went into hospital my friends rallied round, sorting out everything from overnight bags for S and I to food in my freezer. For over a week afterwards I relied on my friends to take care of S while I recovered, and for several weeks after that I relied on my friends to take S to and from school for me.
Still, relying on others does not come easily to me. I find it hard to ask for help because I don’t like to be a burden or a nuisance. I find it really hard to ask for help, but I’m getting better at asking for – and receiving – help when it’s offered.
Towards the end of this year, I met a man. Suddenly, after five years of doing things alone, there is someone there who wants to be a part of our lives; wants to be there for me to rely upon. He says things like Oh, I could drive you there or I can do that for you and every time, my first reaction is No, you don’t need to. Not because I don’t want him to help, but because I don’t want him to feel like he needs to. But still, he offers – and I’m learning to say Yes please, that would be great.
I think I’m finally learning my lesson!