Another Lesson in Knitting

Last summer I had this enormous skein of wool to knit someone a pair of socks, and rather than ask Mr. Spit for help to wind it into a ball, I tried to do it myself.

Hint: 1200 metres of wool is not an easy thing to hand wind into a ball, all by yourself. In fact, you are stupid if you try to do it yourself. Really. Either get help, use a ball winder, or ask the store to wind it into a ball for you.

So, finally, the skein was in about 600 million knots, and I was utterly incoherent with frustration and rage, cursing and howling.

Mr. Spit came up the stairs, and he just stood in the doorway to our den. And he looked at me with such compassion, and a touch of frustration, and he said:

"Why didn't you just ask me for help?"

And God bless him, he didn't say "you have a problem" or "that was dumb". Instead, he took the tangled mass from my hands, and spent several hours of his time carefully untangling it, pulling yarn through and over and around the knots, and handed me back a ball of wool already to knit into socks. It is an act of love, that, when you take something that someone has utterly screwed up and you give up your own time to fix it, and you return that which was broken, as something completely fixed.

Those words, "Why didn't you ask for help?", they are words I hear often in my adult life. I don't know exactly when I stopped asking for help. But, I'm an adult now, and I need to learn this lesson again.

I'm not sure why it should be a lesson that adults so often need to re-learn. Children tend to ask for help. They are aware that they are too short, too small, they don't understand enough of how the world works, and so they ask for help. Yet, as an adult, I rarely accept that in some sense I am too short, to small, and I still don't understand how the world works.

I am learning this lesson, slowly. Through gentle reminders that I am still broken, and others cannot help me unless I tell them that I am broken. It is fine and good to complain that others don't ask me how I'm doing, and surely, some of them don't. But, when someone does, I need to remember the lesson of the wool skein. I need to remember that grief is so large, so complex, and at times so overwhelming, it is natural I would loose my way. I need to ask for help.

And to buy a ball winder. . .