CEL Masthead Winter 18

Nine words I miss the most

Emma Grey

It’s an art form: allowing people to help.

A colleague of my late husband’s told me a story about him this week. She’d been unwell and put on bed rest towards the end of her pregnancy and some other colleagues had suggested she take work home with her. She went to Jeff for advice and his response was, ‘Leave it with me. I’ll take care of it.’ Ten minutes later, she said, ‘problem gone’. 

I’ve been muddling through life without him for more than six months now, and to be perfectly honest with you, I’m pretty proud of how I’m handling things. When you’re suddenly the only parent, the only breadwinner, and you’re working full-time and running the house and processing your own grief and helping all their children through theirs, and doing tonnes of personal admin (more than normal, as Jeff died without a Will – something I do not advise), it’s a fairly massive life adjustment. It’s like wading through mud, up a mountain, dragging medicine balls behind each foot. And yet we’re doing it, and we’re doing well. 

I know how it feels to be independent and strong, to make big decisions and to deal well with unexpected, tragic events. I know what it’s like to front up and do horrible or difficult necessities. I can rise to the occasion. 

I know all of this, but when Jeff’s colleague reminded me of those nine little words, ‘leave it with me, I’ll take care of it’ I wanted to dissolve into a heap on the floor and cry.

Jeff used to say those words a lot. To his colleagues, to his friends, to his kids, to me … He had a very ‘grown up’ way of simply ‘handling things’ that made me feel nurtured and protected and safe. 

It wasn’t a ‘damsel in distress’ situation. It wasn’t a gendered dynamic. It was just a certain way that he had about him. He knew how to take care of you, and things, and ‘life’, and he just got on with it. I miss that.

At running group yesterday, one of the members offered to do something simple for another. She was in a position to help, and the other is currently over-burdened. There was the usual tussle in resistance to this offer. ‘I’m okay … it’s fine … I can do it … are you sure? OK… thank you!’

Minutes later, the same friend was offering to organise for me to have a massage. The resistance came up again. I told her she didn’t have to. She said she wanted to. I accepted, even though it was mildly uncomfortable to say ‘yes’. 

It’s an art form: allowing people to help. We don’t want to make someone else’s life more difficult. We want to demonstrate that we can do it ourselves perhaps because, deep within each of us, there’s a fear that one day we’ll really have to. 

The truth is we’re never on our own, unless we choose to be. Humankind is kind. Help is within reach. Letting someone get close enough to take care of you is a very precious thing, that takes nothing away from how competent you are on your own. I’m living proof that one day you might really need to do this on your own … don’t rehearse that if you don’t need to. 

Join us for Day 1 of the My 15 Minutes program TODAY. A ‘re-boot’ of the program is free for existing members when you purchase a copy of our book, and we’ve bundled the book + program for all new members starting today. All the details are here


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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