Since late last year I have been taking part in a Women Circle that meets monthly to discuss themes related to womanhood. Our sessions are facilitated by a life coach and I must say that this Circle in many ways has been the jump off point to a lot of the change in the past six months in my own life. Last night’s theme was on asking and receiving, on the surface that may sound simple to some of you but many women struggle with asking for help. The thing though is not all asking is about asking for help, sometimes it’s about asking for what you need in the course of a relationship.
Just last night I told the Spousal Unit that I need some more wooing, that once again we have found ourselves in that space where time is tight and neglect happens and I realized the nagging thoughts of marital discord and wondering if we were doomed had a great deal more to do with the fact that I just need to be wooed rather than spelling the end of our marriage. In other areas of my life I am working on asking for help if I need it but also asking for what I want, yet asking is hard, it’s raw, it exposes you and frankly it makes you feel vulnerable. Just the act of asking readers of this blog to consider supporting my work with a financial donation has made me feel incredibly vulnerable, after all to ask does mean while I can open myself up to receive it means some of what I may receive might not be good to me at all. But as a reasonably emotionally healthy person I can take it.
The reason I am talking about the act of asking for what we need as women is because I do believe the older I get that not asking for help or to have our needs met can if we are not on top of things have serious consequences. I read this story this morning and was momentarily taken aback…brief recap, a young mother of 4 children after a fight with her partner in a state of what had to be just madness and disconnect from the world and her own emotions decides to drive her car into a river thus killing her and the babies, thankfully her eldest escaped. On the surface it’s easy to say well she was clearly mentally ill, I think there had to be something there since it’s rare that a truly mentally stable person will commit such a heinous act. It’s one thing to take your life but the babies too?
Yet when I read that this Mama was 25, I imagine she had to be under a great deal of pressure, four kids can be hard on anyone but when you are 25 you are still finding yourself. Add in the pressures of a relationship and you have a volatile mix, but I wonder did she have someone she could just call and talk to? A friend who would have dropped everything and said I got you sis. I am there. I know many women who say well my best friend is my spouse or partner well I feel the same way, the Spousal Unit is my best friend but everyone needs to have at least one person aside from their partner that they can be real with especially women. After all what happens if your partner dies? Or heaven forbid the relationship ends?
No, we all need someone to be there for us. I don’t have many people that I call friends but I know in Chicago there is a 43 year old man I have had in my life for the past 22 years who has my back. He has seen me through one ill fated marriage, birth of kids, illness and death of my mother, financial woes…you get the idea. The night I learned that my Mom’s cancer had spread to her brain and most likely she wouldn’t make it, that brotha held me up, 5 hours on the phone into the wee of the night. I also had another friend who was there for me.
Yet in these overly connected times where we are always “connected” sometimes with all that connection we lose the deeper connections, the heart connections. We might know what we are reading because we can share it online, we might know where we are eating because we can foursquare but there is no app that says I am on the brink mentally and emotionally. For that we need people, real people in real time we can connect with and who we can just ask to be there for us.
It is hard to ask for what we need and I don’t think it’s any mistake that for most of us we only get good at it as we get older, when we realize that asking for what we need is worth being naked, raw, exposed and vulnerable. I have noticed among my older friends those over 50 that they are often more clear on asking and even offering, again I think this is the gift of age.
The reason I am mentioning age is not to be condescending but lately in my online communications I have noticed with younger women an attitude that frankly scares me. A distinct lack of supporting one another, I sometimes think this is because when you are young often times the world looks black and white yet I think its with age we realize there are very few absolutes. You understand as you get older, that you can love your babies, do the best by them and well they still might turn out to be knuckleheads.
My heart goes out to this young boy who now must live the remainder of his life wondering why his mother took her life, the life of his siblings and almost took his life. No doubt she was hurting but her death should serve as a reminder that all of us have needs and there is no crime in asking that our needs get met. None of us are an island, or a Superwoman…we are women with needs and while we can do as much as possible to meet our own needs, everyone needs someone. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, support or whatever it is we need to be healthy and whole, to not ask is weakness. Its only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that real growth happens.