As a general rule, I don't accept help from people.
I don't like to put people out, and the last thing I want is for people to start thinking "bloody Vicky, can't do anything for herself, every time I see her I have to do something for her."
The other day, a friend asked me, "is that what you think when you help me?" Well no, of course it's not. I wouldn't offer to help my friends if I didn't want to. I don't help my friends in order to get something in return... And then I realised what I was saying...
It's sort of insulting to say that my friends wouldn't just help me out of the kindness of their hearts, that they might expect something in return, or that they might offer whilst secretly hoping I decline.
There is also an element of pride involved in my turning down offers of help and support; I never want it to be said that I can't look after myself and my daughter on my own. I don't want anyone to ever think I'm not capable.
I read a book recently about something entirely different, but the author made the point that if someone wants to help you, and you turn them down, you're sort of insulting them by not allowing them to help. The author said you should make a conscious to receive what is offered, whether it be help, support or a compliment, without trying to refuse or deflect it.
I am bad at receiving compliments. Historically I've never been a fan of the way I looked so when someone else says my hair or my clothes or whatever look good, my stock response is "shut up." I have this friend who keeps complimenting me, and because he does it so often, he really notices the response as being decidedly negative. He told me not so long ago, "if you keep brushing the compliments off, people will stop giving them!" And then I read several books that would probably fall into the category of "self-help" which all said that when someone offers a compliment you should always receive it graciously.
Before Christmas I actually took the big (for me) step of asking for help collecting S's Christmas present from the shop. And you know what, it actually made me feel pretty good to have done it. The world didn't end; the person who helped me didn't resent me for it, everything was just fine.
And then, the ultimate exercise in receiving without question arose. Every time I switch my TV on lately, it looks a little like it's supposed to be in 3D but I don't have the glasses on. At first I thought perhaps they'd started showing CBeebies in 3D... then I realised that my TV was probably dying. It's been dying for months; it was given to me by a dear friend when I first moved in here and has served us well, but alas it's now on its way out. Even with 3D glasses it's a headache to watch. I put a Facebook status up, because that's what I do about a million times a day.
I had a brief moment of shit, what will I do if it stops working all together? I can't afford a new TV! and then I remembered that I'm determined to be positive these days; I've been trying to do that thing where you don't worry about anything, and trust that "the universe will provide" or "it'll all come good in the end." So I forgot about it, and just fiddled with the scart leads at the back of the TV to try and improve the picture (short term solution to everything: wiggle the lead and think happy thoughts. Works surprisingly well).
And then... then I got a text message from a friend: If the TV is knackered don't worry. I'll sort a new one for you if you don't mind? First thought: WTF? This is someone I don't know terribly well; even if I did, there's no way I could allow him to buy me a TV. Second thought: Why not? Clearly this person wants to do this, or he would have just ignored my Facebook status and moved on. We have already established that he is not trying to get into my knickers. I was at a loss as to what his motive might be but I figured that if I'm going to say "the universe will provide" then I really should accept when I'm offered a new TV. So we went to the shop, and he bought me a new TV. And I felt very uncomfortable about the whole experience.
I still have little clue as to why this person would buy me a new TV... except for the fact that were the shoe on the other foot, and I had some money in my pocket, I'd buy a friend a TV if theirs broke. It makes me feel uncomfortable to accept things from people, but I know how it can make me feel good to help a friend. Just last week I gave my sofa and fake Christmas tree to a local family, and felt pretty bloody amazing for it (not just because I hated the sofa with a passion usually reserved only for BNP members; the fact it clearly made them happy brightened my day to no end). So I'm working on the whole "receiving" thing.
Say hello to the new Vicky... and her spiffy new TV.