The One Thing I Wish I Never Learned From My Mother
by Rikke Kjelgaard
by Rikke Kjelgaard
In my life I’ve had my fair share of both sh*t and sunshine.
My parents did and continue to do the best they can for both me and my brother. They’re obviously from a whole different generation and their way of approaching many things are way different than mine. Both because times have changed and because I do what I do for a living. Having vulnerable conversations was never our greatest family superpower. Neither was having strong emotions. Truth be told: no one taught my parents how to handle or talk about all the messy psychological sh*t we humans encounter through life and so they did their best to control their inner and outer environment. Now as I am
all fairly grown up I see things from a different perspective and I have nothing but respect, admiration and compassion for my parents. They truly did the best they could.
Still. They taught me stuff I wish I never learned.
In 2018 me and my mum went to Nepal together. She was 71 at the time. Talk about being a badass!! The days were spent
walking climbing up and down mountains and our psychological and physical limits were being tested in so many ways. As we stood in front of what we referred to as “a wall” that we were supposed to climb, my mother just lost it. She could not see herself climbing up that hill. She cried. She was afraid. She was not the superwoman mother that I normally get to see. It was very difficult for me to witness. The local sherpa guides instantly came and offered to carry her bag. And then it happened. I heard my mom say stuff like:
“It’s my own fault. I chose to come here myself”.
“I packed my own bag. It’s my responsibility. I should have packed lighter”.
“I don’t want to be a burden”.
And then I realised: this lady never asks for help. Like: never. I know she has her reasons. When she lost both her parents she actually went to see a therapist. At their first – and only – session she told about her loss and the therapist started sobbing and the secretary waltzed in to comfort him. The therapist. My mum was left to witness this entire circus and cleverly left the sobbing scene. Not only was my mom brought up at at time where you did not ask for help but she was also being heavily punished for actually doing so, when she really, really needed it.
What has that got to do with me, then?
Well. I am sure if you asked my mother if she would want me to ask for – and get – help, her answer would be a big fat yes. So she has never actually told me to not ask for help. But throughout life she has modelled that you mind your own business and that you don’t show weakness.
Back to Nepal.
There she was. Crying. Shaking. And trying to convince the sherpa guides that she didn’t really need (ie: deserve) to be helped.
Their response was something in the line of: “if YOU don’t get up, then WE don’t get up”.
In their culture asking for help and helping others is just the most natural thing. For “us” Westerners – it just isn’t.
It had a profound impact on me to watch her hand over her bag to the guides and let herself be held and helped up that wall. Can you imagine being 71 years old before you show yourself weak and ask for help?
My mum is such a badass. She truly is. But dammit how I will not walk that path myself.
I am inviting you, me, my kids, my family, my friends, my clients and the whole damn universe to start asking for help and show up vulnerable.
You might not be carried every time you ask.
But if you don’t ask to be carried then surely it won’t happen.
And you deserve to get help when you need it.
Because if YOU don’t get up then WE don’t get up.
And we’re all in this together.
And you are not alone.