In my recent post, Is Crazy Busy Your Armor, I explored the pain and stress WOC attempt to hide by staying busy. Today, I want to take a look at our reactions to friends and family who seem preoccupied or standoffish. In our self-absorbed thought process, we may lose sight that our loved ones are adjusting, living, or possibly struggling. They may need us to support them through life’s changes by stepping up OR (some folks may not like this one) giving them space to breathe. Below are examples of unhealthy reactions and thoughts some WOC have towards friends and family who “fall off” to deal with life:
Girl, where you been?!
What?! She answered the phone!
Look who came up for air!
You act like you don’t know anybody anymore!
What could be so serious/important that you can’t return my text/call?
Let me know when you’ve got time for me/you’re free/done being busy.
Ain’t nobody THAT busy!
Must be your man/your job/your business/your whatever keeping you away from your friends/family!
If you were a real friend, you would check in more often.
I’m not doing it with her...she’ll get back to me when she’s ready.
We ALL have stuff going on!
Sound familiar?! We have all been there with a friend or family member that we love. These responses can make those close to us feel that we aren’t a haven, but another version of hell. Under the sassiness and lack of empathy, the root is love. In our haste, what comes across is judgment. Our reactions may evoke guilt in others making them feel obligated to explain their position. That’s NOT love. Love is patient and understanding. Our loved ones do not owe us explanations or front row seats to their experiences. This includes those we have known for a lifetime. It’s important to recognize that when someone we love pulls away, their reasons are unique to their situation and usually have nothing to do with us. When we give people time and space to sift through their lives/difficult times/trauma, they may come to us and they may not. What matters is that we remain a safe space for them to open up when they are ready. Sometimes the people we love need us to check in on them without requiring anything in return or demanding an explanation for their choices.
So what does true support look like? I’m glad you asked!
Before you head off to support anyone, check in with your emotions. Do you want to genuinely support your loved one or is there a hidden agenda? Don’t ask if someone is ok just to get in their business.
Let the individual know that you love them and you’re there for them. They may be tired, stressed, overwhelmed, or enjoying a new stage in their life. You don’t have to know what they're going through or support their choices to support them. (We’ll talk about that another time!)
Always ASK what your fellow sister needs, if anything. You may be surprised at the response. Help if you can. If they ask for space, don’t question them about the length of time. Allow them space and let them know you’ll be there. Remember, love is patient.
If you have to bring up a difficult topic, be mindful of the timing. For example, if your friend/family is struggling emotionally, that is not the best time to hash out a problem. On the flip side, if you want to say something nice or tell someone you miss them, don't wait! Let them know, but keep the expectations to a minimum.
Keep your word and remain consistent. Relationships are NEVER 50-50 and there will be times when we give more than we receive. If you are keeping tabs as a friend or family member, that is an unhealthy relationship and it needs to be reevaluated.
Wouldn't it be awesome if we were all able to effortlessly juggle multiple relationships, please everyone, and manage to get eight hours of sleep every night?! The reality is all of us are navigating various emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, professional, and mental challenges and changes while showing up to life daily. We don’t always know what we need or how to handle everything life throws our way. Let’s be mindful that we all experience and react to our lives differently. Remember this when you are responding to someone you love. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have an amazing week!