What the hell, ask for help.

by Richard C Renson
(West Worthing)

I was always one for just doing it, what ever "it" was. It was just simpler. Well, I say simpler, "it" often didn't work out as I'd hoped, but hey, there's always next time.


Life was a collection of next times, and still I did it alone, failed, dusted myself off, and tried again..........if at first you don't succeed.........

Now past 50 and I like to think that those endless lessons I seemed never to learn from, obstinate, stupid, dim, mental issues??? No, I think it was fear, fear of asking for help. And then being rejected, told off in some dreaded way, abandoned, hurting someone's feelings, and so on and so forth.

Later in life, when I had managed to not listen or ask for help, or at least asked for help, and not listened, I was about to marry the (then) women of my dreams. She, God bless her, suggested, well,, told me I was an alcoholic. Hmm, that brought me up short, even though I'd know that for years but failed dismally to accept it and take action. so, of I went to a self help group called AA.

Well, not to be rude about a group of people who were, from bleary memory, nothing but kind and supportive, but they seemed to have no problem with drink because they weren't doing so. I, on the other had, had to pop to the loo three or four times during the hour an a half meeting, to "top up" with my friend vodka, concealed, I though very cleverly, in a coke bottle. The others just seemed to enjoy the meeting and suggested that I came back next week. Funny lot, I thought.

On the way home, through the haze of high proof cheap vodka, I thought about "self help", and the more I thought, the funnier it sounded because, for years, I'd self helped myself from one pot hole to the next, from one bear trap to the next, from one relationship, job, foolish purchase, or course to the next. What did I have to show for it? Scars both physical, emotional, and mental.

Later on, when the lovely woman who told me I was an alcoholic, stopped buying me anything, moved me out of the marital bedroom, and got on with her life without me, I asked for help. Oh, not before losing my driving license, many jobs very quickly, having black outs, ending up in police cells, being punched by a woman with a diamond ring on, slashing my jaw open, hearing voices in my head as I travelled on trains, and a few other less than interesting or enjoyable experiences.

The trick, I learnt then, and internalised it swiftly, was to ask for help, take the risk that, when asking the right person, or people, they will, with out a doubt, know much better than I will the likely outcome of offering assistance.

That was all some sixteen years ago, but life is a funny old business. Drinking alcohol is very much a thing of the past. I was in "catering", i.e., ran pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, and the odd small hotel, crashed and burnt. Did rehab, or rehab did me, not sure which but I learnt it was ok to be me, make mistakes, and even to learn from the first one. Re-trained and became a therapist. Helped a bunch of people just by listening to them. Amazing!

Sailed, a lot. Became a senior dinghy instructor, but not for the (poor) money, just because I wanted to. Also amazing. Crashed and burnt again. Seems to be a hobby of mine. And now I am at university reading for my first degree with a bunch of people who are as old as my own children. Joy.

At uni and elsewhere in my life, I can ask for help,, and receive it. I have learnt that the people I met, some sixteen years back were, and are just like me, because I don't have to drink myself to death today. They, like me, belong to a mutual help group where words of kindness and support, shared daily experiences can help lost souls just like me.

Society is in a pit. We've had it fairly good for quite some time. However, in that time the me, I, self has increased. I intend, have started to see what I can do for others, in any small way possible. If someone asks me for help, I will always try to assist in whatever way I can.

Help, a very human, two way experience.

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