Phone A Friend
Big feelings grow in the dark. They multiply, taking on a life of their own if we don’t share them with others. Suddenly, what seemed manageable now feels overwhelming. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over and over in my life and I am thankfully at a place where it doesn’t take forever before I remember this tool in my toolbox.
Friends let us vent so we can let the air out of our feelings and bring them back down to size. They make sympathetic noises and well placed suggestions. And, most importantly, they remind us that we are not alone in our experiences – countless others have been through the same thing and countless others will go through it in the future. We are normal and this too shall pass.
This lesson was never more impressionable for me than when I had a miscarriage. It was a hoped for, completely surprise pregnancy after being told many times I would likely not get pregnant. I was still in the first trimester, but I think that your heart cleaves in two no matter when your baby stops growing. I felt alone, like a failure and so sad… but then I started talking. And it was then that I learned that P. had had a miscarriage. And my friends E. and D. And D.’s friend M. And there were more and more people who started opening up and telling me their stories of miscarriage. Suddenly, my pain was still there, but now 15-20 people were carrying it with me.
Women can be better at this than men. We circle the wagons and remind each other of our strength. We offer hope and words and gestures of support. Just an hour ago I got back from a night away with two dear friends. We talked and drank and ate and talked and drank and talked. There were tears and laughter – comfort and support. My feelings and fears about this whole zero income thing got aired out and I came home lighter, more free and filled back up by love.
Scott has had moments of this too. A friend said to him, “This is the first time this has happened to you? Dude, it’s happened to me 3 times! It’s just the industry.” And, just like that, someone picked up his burden and helped him carry it. The air was let out and suddenly perspective rushed in.
That’s what we can do for each other. That’s how we love each other. We show up. We let the light in. It can be scary to be so vulnerable, but through vulnerability our connections deepen. Our friendships grow. So remember, in times of great stress – or even any stress – phone a friend.
Bonus reading: If you want science to give you a kick in the pants to pick up that phone, a study by the University of Michigan confirms the importance of being close to others. “Feeling emotionally close to a friend increases levels of the hormone progesterone, helping to boost well-being and reduce anxiety and stress.” (Read about the study here.)