If you’re not one of those superhuman can-do-it-all types or know one closely what follows won’t make sense to you. If you are/know one of those, chances are you find yourself relating to my story. The story of how the invincible Bettina finally found some peace in her restless heart.
It all began by being blessedly born with a seemingly never running on empty barrel full of optimism and can-do attitude. Later in live, added to this innate personality trait, came many years of indoctrinating “if you can perceive it you can achieve it”. At 40 I asked myself if there is anything at all I can’t do. I seemed to have been screaming “Yes, bring it on” at the universe, because bring it did.
All on my own, with a young child of 4, in a far away land from home (some 10,000 km), without family and hardly any friends around, I felt invincible. Sure I can deal with post-natal depression, being dropped alone in your home 3 days after having major emergency abdominal surgery to bring this other being into the world isn’t really that hard to do, is it now? See I can do it, single parenting from day 1, even without pharmaceutical help! “You can eat chocolate or work out your issues” I said, marching off to the best coach in the universe (for me anyway) and yes, I did it.
I came out tops emotionally and what did invincible Bettina do next? Storm into a business deal that went horribly sour 2 years later. And then that innate “can do attitude” suddenly was gone. My self-confidence was totally eroded after I realised I had lost everything, including an opportunity to create income – at least that’s how it felt down there at the very bottom. Now I wasn’t just alone at the end of the world with a young school going child I also was without means to pay the rent.
Did I ever ask anyone for help? Nope. Why would I? I can do it on my own! I don’t need anybody. And besides, what a failure would I be! The shame!
Actually, I did ask one person for help, but what I got wasn’t what I asked for (it was much better) but that story is too long for this post. That’ll fill a whole book one day. (I have the best intentions to start writing it soon).
It took losing it all at the very end of the world, being all on my own, crying on the floor, to finally realise, that maybe, just maybe, I can’t do it all and that there is actually no shame at all in that. I realised I needed to ask for help but I couldn’t. I felt I was trapped in eternal self-pity hell and I hated it. But I also didn’t know what to do, I was too lost to figure that out.
In that moment of utter despair, total panic and shell-shocking fear one good friend of mine said to the other, who hadn’t seen me in 10 years and asked about me, “I think she might need your help, she isn’t so well”. The next day that friend, whom I had helped 10 years earlier through some dark days and had already totally forgotten about it, got into his car, drove 50 km to go have coffee with me.
Looking back it seems I needed this very clear message that it’s ok to accept help and more importantly to trust that it will come if I just open up and let it in.
Ah, therein lies the tricky part – opening up and letting it in.
Let’s make a very long story short, that moment when I tearfully and full of fear looked into the eyes of my friend who so lovingly sat there without agenda, without meaning, just with pure love for me in this very moment, stretching out a hand of help (by just being), that moment was the beginning of me opening up, of understanding that truly no man, or woman, is an island, that accepting help is ok, that being loved is ok, that there is no shame in receiving.
That I can let go and can trust. I can let go and let God.
The next day I decided to let all worry be, that nothing would happen that very day and that I could accept my fate and deal with it the day after. For now I could just go out and remember the love. I went to fetch my kid to go for a walk in the park. A rainbow of total brilliance appeared and is forever etched into my mind as a reminder that “all will be good”. Every time since then when I see a rainbow I remember “all will be good”.
What followed were a couple of years of learning this lesson, of opening, accepting, thanking. Little by little I let more love and help in and the more I did, the more I received. In the last few weeks and months, with our move from one continent to the other, this lesson amplified and got even stronger. When packing up back in South Africa and letting go of all my stuff I had to very strongly trust, that whatever I let go now will come back to me as long as I don’t hold on and stay open to it coming back in.
I’m now just over a month back in Austria and live with my son in a new home which had empty cupboards. We only possessed what I could pack in our combined 4 suitcases. Yeah, it wasn’t much besides the clothes. I haven’t quite recovered yet from the financial loss a few years back so there isn’t a big kitty to simply repurchase stuff that’s needed. But I learned there’s truth in “give and ye shall receive” – my friends & family here plundered their cupboards and attics and so we have a home full of the essentials all given freely and with love by the people close to us.
I was in a way forced to just let it be and receive whatever the universe would send back to me. You kind of need some plates and spoons, and, and, and. I’ve sent a truck of stuff to Hospice Helderberg back in SA and now bit by bit I get it back through my friends.
It made me realise, if I don’t accept their gifts (“no thanks I can do it”, “I’m strong I don’t need help”) as I would have in the past I will take away their pleasure of giving. Because truly, there is blessing in the giving and why would I take that from them?
And so I finally learned, that there is also blessing in the receiving, and a lot of love and gratefulness to go around too. A big thank you to all my friends and family who have been part of this whole exchange of giving and receiving on either side of the world.
Next time you hear me say: “Ah no thanks, I’ll be fine, I manage.” perhaps ask a little deeper and remind me that there’s no shame in asking for help. I might have learned the lesson but that doesn’t mean that I’m beyond it … far from it!
And yes, that’s the kind of stuff that makes for good feelings and a peaceful heart, in other words, happiness.
I am very grateful.