I think every single one of us has heard this from our friends at some point in our life. When things go wrong – the boiler breaks and you’re having a freezing cold shower in mid winter, your car engine explodes on the freeway, or you get bad news from a doctor (and yes all of these have actually happened to me) – your friends always ask you this.
And I bet most of us (well most of us who are British anyway) say no, I’m fine. I’ll manage. We grit our teeth and get brain freeze, we think “Maybe I’ll just keep driving and hope my whole car doesn’t go up in flames”, or we totally pretend the doctor never said that to us and we carry on as (fake) normal.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that on occasion, you need to, you absolutely have to, say yes. Yes, you can help me. Yes, I’m prepared to accept that the stiff upper lip approach isn’t always the best solution. So in my case, the neighbours lovely warm shower rescued me, my friend rescued me from the side of the road, and my friends have been there to rescue me from black days or total denial (not sure which is worse!).
I keep telling you I’m lucky, but I say it because it’s true. My whole life, and never more so than these last few years, I’ve relied on my friends to keep me afloat, keep me sane, keep me on the right track, or just keep me sober (that’s a joke by the way! They always get drunk with me actually). It was hard at first. I like to think I can manage things on my own. But then I realized, if something happened to one of my friends, I’d be asking the same question, I’d be wanting to do something, anything, to help make things better. So I realised by saying yes, I was not only going to get help (which I really needed) but I was also helping my friends be my friend.
That may seem like a blindingly obvious thing to say…. but I’m not sure everyone actually gets it. When you say ‘Yes’, it’s fantastic. It’s like when you buy something and you get some freebies in the bag along with what you got. And who doesn’t love free stuff?! So my friends have helped, maybe just by bringing round cupcakes, or wine, or vodka (you can see where this is heading) for us to hang out and have a much needed laugh. Or they’ve been there at the hospital (actually this tends to be when I haven’t said yes and they decided to pay me a surprise, non-approved visit) and distracted me from the boredom of lying there with a million tubes sticking out of me. My friends have seen me bald, down, crying, drunk, deliriously happy, angry, ranting, dancing, almost ill from over-eating cupcakes and so much more. They’ve seen the lot. Quite often the test of true friendship (amongst girls at least) is that they hold your hair back while you’re throwing up in the toilet. And I don’t think this has happened to me yet (unless I’ve blanked it out along with my other embarrassing behaviours), but I reckon they’ve more than made up for that with other stuff.
So when someone next says is there anything I can do to help? Stop and think about it and consider saying ‘Yes’. Even if it’s something small like helping you take the cat to the vet, or move some furniture, or just going along with you to a doctor’s appointment, or if it’s a big thing like, “I don’t think I’m coping right now”. Just say “Yes, please help”. And it’ll be a wonderful thing for you and your friend.