Over the last couple of weeks, I have been unwell. This has been the real deal and not just case of girl-flu, 'I feel rotten but I will struggle on' sick. Proper 'can't get my head off the pillow, might even fall asleep while you are talking to me' ill.
And whilst being unwell is obviously horrible, having now come out the other side, I am wondering if this bout of illness could be the best thing that has happened to me this year.
There is nothing quite like having the rug pulled from under your feet to make you re-assess how you're trundling on through life, and how that impacts everyone around you.
So, here follow three lessons that I have learnt the hard, somewhat medicated way:
It is ok to ask for help
I am terrible at asking for help. If one of the seven deadly sins gets us all in the end, I know already that mine will be pride. I will paint a smile on my face and struggle through every last ounce of my energy reserves before admitting defeat and asking for help. Even there, I have let slip what that means to me: help equals some sort of failure.
But it turns out that asking for help is not a show of defeat. Actually, sometimes it is a real gift to those you let in, as well as to yourself.
Simply asking my mum to put me and my two daughters up while I recovered meant that she felt useful to me when she saw I was struggling. As a bonus, she got to spend some time with her beloved grandchildren, and they got the gift of precious time with grandma.
I had forgotten the truth in 'once a mum always a mum'. Even if your baby is a stubborn 39-year-old, you still want to be able to help them in any way you can. Opening that door to help was far from a failing. It was a positive, empowering move for all concerned.
Standing down allows others to shine
My bout of sickness came during a new business pitch at work. As well as being hampered by pride I can also be a little bit of a control freak. (Yes, I do sound like a nightmare to work with).
Being unable to 'check in' meant that the fabulous team on the pitch had the opportunity to demonstrate what wonderful stuff they are made from.
My stepping back got them to step up: taking over fully, crafting, developing and producing a piece of work that is an absolute demonstration of their talents.
Without that opportunity to deliver, how would they (or the client... or I) have known just how amazing they could be.
Make sure you hear compliments
Along with the inability to ask for help, I also have an inability to listen to compliments. I have the typically British, self-deprecating response of brushing off compliments and immediately playing down any achievements.
But when you are a little weak and weary, your emotional defences are somewhat reduced. So when friends rush over to help, or even just send you a bunch of flowers telling you that you are doing a great job, the arrow seems to finally pierce the armour. You have to say to yourself 'maybe I am not that bad'. Letting that guard down helps you to feel proud of your achievements, and in so doing inspires you towards greater things.
Sometimes, we all need a little distance to see what is happening more clearly. I'm now well on my way to being fighting fit again - and god it feels great to be back in the land of the living - but I'll definitely be bringing these lessons from my sick bed with me.Suggest a correction