Last year in psychology class, our teacher spoke briefly one day of gender differences. We girls all looked knowingly at each other when we listed the stereotypical things about us: emotional, verbal, soft-hearted, quick to cry.
Then the teacher shared a vignette of a marriage counselling session. He was encouraging a couple to understand their differences and be aware of what the other needs. (Live with your wife in an understanding way, the Bible puts it.) The husband could love her best if she could talk and feel heard. He doesn’t have to explain it away or find solutions for her, just hear her out.
In typical human fashion, I only heard what I wanted to hear from the teacher’s lecture. (I didn’t hear what the wife should do!) I heard an acknowledgment that women function best when they can talk. I did two things with that: 1) winced because I don’t have a husband to talk to and 2) took it as permission to knock on someone’s door to talk when I need it.
Those of us with opinions and fears and ideas and wishes and falterings need a place to get outside our own heads, have someone else look at what is jiggeting around in there, and sift through the stuff. Untangle the spaghetti. Bring to mind what’s been forgotten.
So this morning I was troubled about something I heard yesterday. I was out of my depth and didn’t know how to think about it. I needed perspective and it suited my mentor to meet over lunch. We met, I talked, and she talked. She gave balance and wise perspective and encouragement, and when my scalloped potatoes and salad was finished, I was good to go. I thanked her soundly, and hardly thought about the troubling issue again.
I’m saying this for any woman out there with spaghetti muddling her tired, clever brain: you need to talk with someone.
I don’t mean that you tell someone EVERY time you’re bothered, because that could be every five minutes or every five hours. Life gives bumps and questions and riddles. That’s normal, and we have to roll with the punches. But when there’s a niggling that won’t go away, a worry that festers, an unrest that simmers, find someone who can hear you talk about it, and then you can go on.
No one can do life on her own. Not even the independent ones who know their own minds. (And most of them are independent only because they have to be. But I digress.) We function best in teams, families, communities, small groups. The sum of the whole is worth more than the individual parts, and each gives to and benefits from the others, and we lose more than we realize when we isolate ourselves and try to push through on our own.
Bouncing ideas off someone or sifting through the things that simmer inside is a big part of staying emotionally whole and healthy. It isn’t a right to demand or be selfish about, but something to be honest enough and weak enough to admit need. I think there are a lot of women walking around who are slowly withering inside because they haven’t found a safe confidante or mentor or counselor. And that saddens me because bottling things up is not how we were designed to live, and there are options and better ways of living.
- go on a brisk walk around the block
- email someone if you can’t talk
- curl into a ball and cry and talk to God for a long time
- text or call someone to ask if they have time to meet
Burrowing into a book or scrolling through Facebook are not good options for a bothered brain, usually.
I’m unutterably grateful to be writing from a place of wealth, not want. I know loneliness. I know the ache of friends far away and confidantes too busy. I also know the little bit of courage that it takes to ask to talk gives huge payback in equilibrium and peace.
The tissues and tea help too.
My Willow Tree figurine: “Heart and Soul”
7 thoughts on “What a Woman Needs”
You guessed it. Another one for “the book”.
Linda, you make me smile. =)
This is so good.
Much to mull.
I have had times of needing a “safe confidante or mentor or counselor” and times of being that for someone else, at least I hope that’s what I was.
I like when women take the initiative to ask for a conversation rather than withering on the vine. Because it is awful to find out that “Sally” was dying inside right in front of my nose and I was too oblivious to notice and she never felt safe to ask.
I also like it when they recognize my limited time when they ask to meet and offer to cook a hot dish or something in return so it frees my time a little bit.
And I also like when there is a mutual understanding and meeting of minds, and both parties leave refreshed and richer, which is possible even when one weeps and talks, and the other listens and murmurs.
This post makes my mind just go spidering off in all directions which is a sign that you need to come by for tea and conversation.
Good spiderings going on there. I love being on the spectrum of giving and taking, ebb and flow, and mutual care. I’d come drink tea with you if I could!
Like Dorcas said, very good stuff.
But what I want to know is: So are you saying that the sterotypes are true? 😉
I’m not saying anything categorically. I’m just saying these were the things we came up with. 😉
Anita, this post is spot on. I want to say a great big thank-you for being this kind of friend FOR ME. You have been faithful to listen, to process, to offer perspective and balance. I treasure the gift of your enduring friendship throughout various seasons of life. After communicating with you across a whole ocean, I have often come away feeling satisfied and nurtured just like you felt when you pushed back from the table after having lunch with your mentor. ❤