“Do you think you could very kindly lean against me,’

cos I keep pulling so hard that I fall over backwards.”

I was reminded of that Winnie the Pooh quote when I saw the other mugs on the shelf in my parents’ holiday house. My siblings had different ones, but that one was mine. Now, I can see how apt it was.

Everyone needs someone to lean against don’t they? A lot of the time I struggle to walk without someone to hold onto, physically speaking. My children have got into the way of offering me a hand and my husband often crooks his arm for me to slide mine into. When they forget, I feel panic rising as I calculate how long I can go on my own.

Thinking beyond that, I’m wondering how good I am at making my own mind up, forming my own opinions without turning to someone beside me to think how they think, follow their lead.

For most of my life I have simply followed the lead of people I respect. When I left home for university, I had an opportunity to own my faith and life choices for the first time. Lifted further away from the familiar when I lived in France was the real deal-breaker I suppose. But still, I waited to hear what other people thought before I said anything myself.

My health struggles have given me something that most others can’t offer guidance on. It’s been time to carve my own path and not a pleasant one at that.

Independence is a laudable trait, but I would argue that the ability to lean on other people has to go alongside it. To look to others for help is not a sign of weakness. I’m not sure that many people truly understand that.

If you ask someone for help or advice, you are acknowledging that you need more than just yourself. Knowing our own mind is really important, but recognising that we can’t make it alone is too.

I want to make sure I can defend my own opinions, make my own decisions and step out by myself if need be.

But I will never move so far away from other people that I’ve nobody’s back to lean against. Everybody needs somebody after all.

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