According to an article in the New York Times, friendships have healing power, even more so than family ties.
Relationships can be stressful too, but people with a larger network of friends and connections live longer, and even have lower risks of coronary disease, cancer and high blood pressure among other health problems.
The ladies are better communicators than the gentlemen of the world and also share a greater need to communicate feelings and connect more intimately with others, in general. Men also do, but not with as many people and, even less, so intimately.
We women need to bond at a deeper level, feel understood and talk things out. Even if it’s only to complain, we need to express outwardly how we feel. I’m generalizing, and I was the perfect example of an exception to the rule until recently.
Unable to express myself
Throughout my life, I found that I wasn’t able to communicate or connect in ways I saw other women do. I used to keep my feelings bottled up, thinking that made me stronger somehow, but eventually I would explode in some way: I would snap at someone, storm out of a room, get depressed, or worse.
Isolation and depression were the result of my inability to communicate my feelings or troubles to others. The reason behind that is a long story, but let’s just say I finally figured it out and I also realized I’m not alone in having feelings and that it’s more than ok to admit it.
Some time ago I suffered a huge loss. Most of us have gone through heartbreak, unemployment, severe illness or the loss of a loved one. This happens to the best of us, but it’s hard to accept and get through it without feeling less-than, unwanted and worthless.
I tried to grit my teeth and keep on, but that time, I just couldn’t seem to get over the pain on my own, so somewhat reluctantly, I enlisted my friends and shared what was going on.
When I opened up, others did too
To my surprise they were all there for me, sharing their own stories, tragedies, and of course listening to my relentless sob story. They called me and e-mailed me daily, sent me jokes, strategies, funny articles … They pulled me through.
I got back on my feet feeling wiser and happier because I found that because of my loss I gained all the love and support only my friends could deliver.
On one of my rants with a friend, I asked her, how she was doing, and to my surprise she started crying and telling me about her worry, her broken heart, which didn’t involve romantic love.
She was feeling lonely, tired, and helpless in her situation, and she was able to talk it out. At the end of our conversation, I hugged her, and thanked her because if talking had helped her, it had helped me even more.
I understood that other people have their hurts too. Talking things out with a friend, not trying to fix anything, just being there, is soothing.
Empathy makes the world go around
Last night I got a text from a friend telling me he had been dumped. My immediate response was to fix it, telling him how great he was and the usual song and dance about how many fish there are in the sea…
But then I realized the best I could do was to say: “I do understand how you feel, I’ve been there, you are not alone in this. It hurts.”
We can’t always fix a problem but we can listen and understand. And also, try to remember that we are as sick as our secrets. Once they are in the open they cease to be unbearable.
We are social beings, needing to belong. My message to you: share yourself, and your deepest feelings with others.
They might need to hear you are human too.