I received several replies to my last newsletter that you would like to hear more about one of the things that I learned this summer, “Not hiding your anxiety allows you to become a better friend.”
What is it about sharing our anxieties with others that is so difficult? I believe that the same could be asked about sharing the pain that we are enduring, or any struggle, really.
Do we think that sharing this with our dear friends is a sign of weakness? Maybe. But is that true?
People much smarter than I have written entire books on this subject and counselors have logged countless hours with clients (me, included—the sitting on the couch with the counselor part) and yet we still struggle.
And yes, it’s We. I’m including me in this.
My body has an anxiety path. It starts with some news or an event. I’ll give you a recent example.
Almost a year ago, my daughter had hip reconstruction surgery. She was in the hospital for five days and went to rehab twice a week for 4 months. She had another surgery in June to have the pins removed that were placed there a year ago. Basically, she had almost nine months of recovery and rehab. She’s doing great and even started to play softball again in August.
Last Sunday she was at a game and Greg sent me a text that she had hyperextended her knee (on that same leg that her hip was reconstructed!) running to first base and had to sit out for the rest of the game. 1
All it took was that text and the anxiety knew the path to take. A brief tingle shifted through my body from head to toe and ten minutes later, my bowels took over and I needed to find a bathroom, quickly.
It never fails. It’s my anxiety path. 💩
My family knows this about me, and my close friends. It may be genetic because the same thing happens to my mom! She even has a sign in her bathroom that says, “Don’t scare me, I poop easily!”
Well, now I’ve shared it with you and the Internet! (sorry, mom 😚)
It’s not a pretty picture but it’s true. Sure, it’s embarrassing but I’ve learned to laugh about it now.
Back to my point—do we think that sharing our anxiety, sharing our pain with others equals weakness?
We need to learn to turn that narrative around.
Strength comes from the encouragement that we receive (or give) to each other. We are not meant to go through life alone. Life is meant to be shared, even when we’re anxious or enduring pain (or___ fill in the blank) and by doing so, it does NOT show that we are weak.
Sharing my anxiety equals strength.
Sharing my pain equals strength.
Sharing my life equals strength.
Say it out loud if you need to.
It makes me a better friend when I embrace it as a strength and I believe it will for you as well.
Need a boost to share? Schedule a time to meet with what I like to call, a life-giver. A life-giver is a counselor, spiritual advisor, mentor, pastor, priest—taking this step is often the hardest to do. These life-givers can give you the communication tools that boost your courage to share your life with those closest to you.
My daughter is doing ok! Her knee is a little sore but she’ll be fine after a few weeks of rest.