Mindful with Irene (6)

Irene – together with Astrid the founder of Flow Magazine – decided to take a different approach and discovered that if you dare to ask for help, a lot of people are willing to help. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in daily life.

Like many of my divorced friends, there are times when I miss having a man about the house. Sometimes it’s for practical purposes (such as drilling holes, making cat flaps in doors, mowing the lawn), but sometimes it’s also because I feel vulnerable. What if I get sick? Who will take care of me? What if I have a bit too much to drink at the neighborhood party, and one my kids falls down the stairs? Who will take charge then?

When I was still married, it felt so natural. We would care for one another in sickness and in health, so everything was okay. Having struggled through the difficulty of the past few years, I’m now taking a different approach. At first, I just wanted to be big and strong: I could cope with, and solve, anything perfectly well myself, I didn’t need anyone. Until, that is, I read some more about self-compassion. Why did I actually want to solve everything myself? Who did I want to prove that I was so strong now to? How bad is it to ask for help? I decided to take a different approach, and discovered that if you dare to ask for help, a lot of people are willing to help. And with that, I suddenly no longer felt so unstable being on my own.

I built on my relationships with all the lovely people in my neighborhood – held a party, often took time out for a chat, made sure I took part in the neighborhood barbecue, set up a group chat on the app with my neighbors – all of which have helped create a huge safety net around me should anything happen (the kids forgetting their key, huge spiders on the wall, that kind of thing). And I’ve also stopped with the “oh-yes-I’m-good-and-everything-is-great-and-I’m-coping-just-fine-thanks”-chat when talking with my friends. Which has led to many great moments, such as, for example, when my father passed away, and a friend came to pick me up in Brabant, as I was too exhausted to drive myself home to Haarlem. And another friend had prepared a meal for the children and me, and left it at the front door for us upon our return. I’m glad I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily need a partner to be my safety net. Thanks to self-compassion, I now dare to ask!

Illustration: Marloes de Vries