I was in a mood. One where a thing had happened that hurt my feelings. Because that thing was so heavy on my heart, I was short in my text responses.
Women get that way sometimes. We might be curt in our response. We might leave you on “read” for an hour before responding to your text.
Sometimes we do it because we don’t know what to say because our thoughts are on the thing that’s bothering us. Sometimes we do it because we want you to ask what’s wrong. (Keeping it real here!)
Because he knows my usual nature and felt my distance, he asked. “You ok?” And I unpacked the situation that led to the current moment.
Then he did it. And I knew he would.
With all the love and care inside of him, he began, “Don’t you think you should…?” No, dear. No, I don’t. I also don’t think you should… But what I said (very annoyed by his response) was “you have no idea how many times I have…” And the back and forth began of him offering a solution and me trying to explain to him what I had done and that I was just hurt. And it went on until I said “I need to go” and shut down the conversation.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t explain to him that what I needed was just to vent and sit in my feelings for a minute. And what I needed from him was just to listen. I didn’t need him to fix or clean up the situation for me. I didn’t need him to explain why I should do what he thought I should do. I couldn’t get him to understand that I knew and agreed with everything he was saying. I had done everything he was telling me to do!
I left the conversation hurt and sad. Still hurt by the thing, and now by the man who wanted to fix that hurt and clean up my feelings. And I was sad because even in understanding the hurtful situation he just didn’t get it!
To the significant others who want to make it all better:
We know your heart, and that you just want to make things better for us. We know that you are fixers by nature. You fix the broken toys and the fence and the car and whatever else lies broken on the counter until you happen upon it. Fix the things, don’t try to fix our hurts.
We know that you are cleaners by nature. You clean your guns and your truck (sometimes) and you push our mess out of the way when we leave it on the bathroom counter. Oddly never the house. Could you clean the house? But I digress…Clean the things, don’t try to clean up our feelings.
We know that your heart is in the right place…
With all the love: Just don’t. Please stop.
Don’t try to fix our hurts by telling us what we should do. Please stop trying to clean up what is messy in our hearts and our minds.
When you ask if we answer…just listen…
When you ask if we are ok and the response comes as an unloading of what someone else did to make us feel anything less than adequate and worthy and happy…just listen!
We tell you because we need to say it, not because we want you to fix it.
We tell you because it hurts to hold it in and we need to get it out.
We tell you because we trust you with the messiness of our hearts, not because we want you to clean and polish it.
We tell you because you are our safe place.
We already know…
The truth is, you probably aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know.
We know that that co-worker doesn’t have our work ethic, and we shouldn’t let it bother us that she does less than we do.
We know that that mom works from home and has time to keep the house in better order, and cook a meal 5 nights a week so we shouldn’t compare her picture-perfect social media life to ours. (And yes, we know that what we are seeing is likely tidied up for postable perfection.)
We know that the kids will do fine, even with the added stress of the nature of hybrid learning in Phase 3 Louisiana.
We know that the ten extra quarantine pounds don’t matter to you and you still think we are as lovely as ever.
We even know that whatever it is that has us in a tizzy probably isn’t even going to matter tomorrow (or an hour from now).
But right now, at the moment you asked: if we are telling you about it—it matters.
What can you do?
Listen. Just let us unload and unpack.
Ask. But only “what can I do?”
Don’t. Make a suggestion of what we should do unless our answer is “tell me what I should do” or “what would you do?”
We want to share it all with you. We want you to know what brings us joy and what brings us pain. We want to feel listened to and loved. We don’t want our dad to fix it, or else we would have told him. We want our partner to hear us without caving in to the natural desires to fix what is wrong. Sometimes trying to fix “it” only serves to break “us” a little…We know why you do it. Now please stop.