Z packs up

I think, don’t you, that one of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. People usually hate to feel that they’re taking advantage, even if a friend has offered, and one feels one should be self-reliant and able to cope. Time was when I never asked for help, however much I could have done with it.

For example, many years ago, the Sage had an operation and, on his arrival home, would have to sleep downstairs for a week or so. This meant bringing a bed downstairs. Now, our only single spare bed was (this was indeed a long time ago) an old metal-framed one. A new mattress but a very old and heavy base. I had to carry it downstairs. Why didn’t I phone a friend and ask for help? I was too shy. I even knew who I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t. Years later, I told him about it and was roundly told I was an idiot. True. Knew it at the time. Didn’t help.

Anyway, now I ask for help and offer it too. I’ve made good friends that way in fact. A long time ago, someone I didn’t know very well was telling a few of us at WI that her parents’ new house, in the process of being renovated, had been flooded because of a burst pipe (a breakdown in communication between the person doing the pipework and the one doing the insulation, followed closely by a hard frost). The place was in a total mess and she was having to clear it up in haste before her poor mum and dad saw it. “I’ll come and help,” I said, and I did, and we’ve been great friends ever since. We muck in together.

Last year, I was gloomily painting my flat in London and I texted Dandelion to cheer myself up, and she offered to come and help. Now, I was being completely selfish because I knew she was busy, but I accepted her offer. I hope she felt complimented by that, because it is a compliment to have an offer accepted – that is, that it’s assumed that you mean what you say and are not being simply polite in a “we must do lunch” way, and that the recipient trusts you enough to ask or accept.

Anyway, the Fellow and his wife are moving house, and on Saturday I offered to help with the packing up. This morning, she rang and took me up on it. That’s all really, but I’m so glad they’ve asked.

6 comments on “Z packs up

  1. Dave

    I’m afraid I’m very good at offering to help (and mean it) but bad at asking for help myself. Pride, in my case, I suspect.

  2. Anonymous

    Up until age 30 I was always asking for help, then I got to the “I can do it myself and will help you when needed” stage. Now, after sore muscles, exhaustion and ER visits, I’m willing to help others and do most things myself but not fearful of asking for help when needed.

  3. I, Like The View

    I think this is so true, Z – and now my head is too full of thoughts to write what I was initially going to say. . .

    so I’ll just add that I thought this piece was a beautiful piece of writing!

    thank you


  4. Z

    I’ve learned that it’s an aspect of friendship to accept help as well as give it, even if it’s hard at first. And being too self-sufficient made me look distant and unfriendly, even if I was actually just shy. But, as Anon says, it has to be two-way or one can seem a bit demanding.

    Thanks, ILTV. Friendship, and people, become ever more important to me as time goes by. I used to be too self-absorbed. I’m still working on that.

  5. Dandelion

    I did, but it’s a minefield, especially if you’re like me and have a habit of accepting help out of politeness.

    I also seem to remember us cracking open the booze. Not sure I was much good to you after that.


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