Imagine a world where we didn’t tell each other ‘HOW TO DO IT’ but instead, ‘YOU CAN DO IT’ – a world with less advisory committees and more cheer squads! I want you to know, I am on your cheer squad, I am barracking for you, shaking my pompoms (yes, I made these pompoms out of garbage bags, napkins and toilet paper, but nevertheless they do the job!)…I’m leaping and back flipping for you (the last two maybe just metaphorically). I want you to know you are not alone, it’s not just me either, there’s a whole bunch of us who believe you have the courage and strength to do this.
I know you’ve had your heart broken. Those times when you’ve apprehensively opened your heart only to have your friends or family stomp on it. They didn’t mean to. People are just often emotionally dumb. Real connections scare the dickens out of them.
I’ve found that most often when people feel uncomfortable, or just not sure what to say in an uneasy situation; they default to responding in one of four ways….
The first being avoidance. They will not even bat an eyelid at the fact that you just bore your soul and your a blubbering mess, instead they ask if you’ve seen the latest episode of real housewives or they suddenly remember they have an appointment to get to. Oh my goodness, the amount of times I have screamed NEVER AGAIN and wanted to kick myself for opening my big fat gob.
The second go to, for a lot of folk, is giving advice. The self appointed teachers and counselors whom in order to avoid any advancement in your relationship, or getting too close they opt for giving guidance. A screen many hide behind. Giving advice is fine I guess, some of the time – if that advice was invited. But is it ever the role of a friend to lecture? Is it our place to point out another’s flaws? Is it a friend’s job to coach? Is it? Or as a friend recently put it, she was just ‘challenging’ me. Is challenging a nicer word for judging? Would you have challenged me had I not been in a vulnerable state?
I’m sure all of you have had moments where a loved one has asked, how are you? And stupidly you actually thought they meant it, that it was safe to answer honestly, and so courageously you did. And boy didn’t you regret that! You were met with some fabulous advice to chew the bark off some rare tree found in the deep rainforests of south Africa or to think happy thoughts, and then there’s when you are reminded of a great aunt who has it way worse than you do. One doctor once told me – I should maybe volunteer for riding for the blind to get my mind off myself and I would heal. Now I’m someone who never whines to friends and family… stupidly, I thought when my doctor asked I assumed it was a safe place to tell the truth. Silly me.
Number three is when making light of everything is the cure all. Using humour to deflect the likelihood of possibly having to connect emotionally with someone. I’m sure you’ve experienced this one. For example when I was having a toxic reaction to the drug lithium and the side effects where making me dangerously ill; a helpful response from a friend was, ‘oh well, I guess I know where to come when my batteries go flat.’ Or here’s a doozy, when I was going through acute withdrawal off psych meds, I was fighting hard – desperately trying to avoid hospital. A friend phoned me. I would never normally have answered the phone in such a state, ever. I was actually out pacing around my yard fighting tormenting suicidal thoughts. For years I had kept such thoughts and feelings private, never sharing except with my psych or hubby. I was coming out of isolation and learning that others cannot help me unless I tell them; I needed to be more upfront and give people the chance to shine…. So when my friend, whom I loved phoned, I took it as an opportunity for growth.. be truthful Meli! I did, I told her I was fighting thoughts of wanting to kill myself. Her response was, “Oh gosh I’d want to kill myself too if I had to give up sugar.” (If you’re wondering why the sugar reference…. I was on the GAPS protocol)
Now before you start to lose hope in humanity, here is number four – The fabulous Cheer Leaders! Those whom you will never hear say, ‘I know how you feel’, because let’s face it, none of us can ever know how another is feeling. We can have shared experiences – We may even have similar stories, but to know how another is feeling is impossible. To presume to know is…..well, to me that is just plain ignorance and dare I say, arrogance.
A cheer squad member realises it’s not our job to fix each other. They understand not knowing is perfectly ok. Cheer leaders are comfortable saying just that…. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say or how to help, but I am here. They don’t assume to know. Instead they ask their friend, or grandfather or even their child – “What is life really like for you, what does a day for you look like, feel like?”
I had a beautiful member of my cheer squad message me today and despite the fact I didn’t turn up to her baby shower and the fact she has just lost a loved one and I have not been able to see her, she said something beautiful, she said, “People who know you don’t need an explanation because we know your spirit not your circumstances.” Now that’s a cheer leader right there! She forgave me before I had even said sorry.
I would love to bits if you would all join me this week intentionally being slow to speak and quick to listen, Slow to give advice and quick to hug, Slow to say, I know how you feel and quick to say, I don’t have a clue but I love you.
Kisses and Strength to you all,