Ten years ago, shortly before I turned thirty, I went to the doctor. I was having migraines and muscle spasms and was constantly tired. I had two little ones and was teaching full-time, which actually kind of meant that I had twenty-something little ones.
Church activities kept me pretty busy too.
I talked Jason into going to my doctor's appointment with me in case the doctor had bad news. After a short description of my symptoms, the doctor started to scrawl on his prescription pad while casually diagnosing me with "mild depression". Tearful I told him, "I don't think I'm depressed. Jason proceeded to uneasily rub and pat my back, the tension in his fingers evident.
Rather than accept this diagnosis prematurely, I prayed and tried to remove stressful unecessaries (needless activities and responsibilities) from life. The "spell" was short-lived.
I've thought back to that moment in the doctor's office often. It's the first time I remember getting the "I'm Patting Your Back because I Know You Need Me to do Something and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ELSE TO DO" pat.
I've received many more of them through the past ten years from my husband. And the doctor? He was supposed to be the one to give me the solution to my ailment, and I left feeling ten times worse. My dad has said, "Your doctor is not your friend".
I have the most awesome men in my life. I couldn't do without the strength Jason provides. He's my best friend. He's a buffer when I become stark-raving mad.
My brother calls every couple of weeks just to check on things.
The men in my life, namely, Jason, my dad, my guy in laws in the family, and even Hayden have a way of bringing perspective to the chaos reminding me that things aren't quite as bad as I think. Hayden has "a look" that alerts me that I've gone crackers.
When I see it, I know to rein in the emotions. Because the emotion is sometimes just too much for the boys to handle.
I need my girl friends.
In my millions of "moments", my guys react in three ways. They give me:
1. The "awkward pat"
2. The "you've lost it look"
3. (Often used with #1 and #2) The "awkward silence"
All three reactions let me know that my temporary instability is at the same time familiar, foreign and frightening to them.
My girl friends know where I'm coming from. They're not afraid that "something's wrong with me" when I cry during a prayer,…or a Cotton commercial.
They're not shocked when I fall apart over something seemingly trivial like the filth in the kids' bathroom. They have moments too when they cry over spilled milk (literally).
And they often fall apart when they think their kid's teacher doesn't like their kid,.... or their kid lies to them.
Often when they're falling apart (because their kid is doing bad in school or because their daughter didn't get invited to the party), I'm "going there" with them. Because I've been there before, or because that well of emotion that lies deep within all women helps me to imagine their pain…..or anger……or confusion.
Unlike men, we gals do go to the bathroom together. We shop and we eat together. We "go there" together.
I recently went to doctor again with some of the same troubles that I had ten years ago; constant headaches, fatigue and irritability. This doctor, much like the one ten years ago, without much inquiry, wrote an order for some blood tests with a one word diagnosis at the top of the order, "Menopausal".
Having learned the value of friendship more through the years, I sent a screen shot of my diagnosis to several of my friends. Every one of them could relate or laugh at such a simplistic and mysterious diagnosis. Their shared laughter was healing balm. We women are complicated.
One of the things we need is each other.
We need sisters who can listen when we need to emote about our families' inability to pick up their socks from the living room floor.
We need girls who will cheer with us when we our son makes a "B" in Physics or our daughter gets her weekly shots without a fit or a tear.
We look to ladies who can't fix it, but can feel our pain when we face battles.
We look to stories of moms who've "been there" and overcome dark times.
We depend on the prayers of friends who genuinely care about our marriages.
I met with a gal on Monday. We've had less than a handful of conversations. But we met because we have a common interest; building community among women. We chatted excitedly about an upcoming local event that will take place February 7th and 8th.
She agreed to write a guest blog to tell you all about it. Look for it this Thursday, January 30. When we were saying goodbye, we shared once more our desire for women to unite. We agreed in the need for women to become transparent. We decided that as women,.... with the things we go through, we can almost always relate. And even when we can't relate or speak words of wisdom, as I told her in parting words, "Sometimes we just need someone who we can "awkward laugh" with.