No, I’m not on fire. At least not for the sake of other’s comfort.
Last night after dinner my husband asked me about taking care of some rather mundane tasks that belonged to other people; other adults to be exact.
My gracious response was, “I’m not doing it. I’m tired of doing shit other people are supposed to do.”
No kids or animals were around to hear my sparkly words so at least there’s that.
His response was actually gracious. Because he is a very smart man. Well, actually he just said, “ok.” But whatever. Still a smart guy.
However, I do think my abrupt answer speaks to where a lot of women are coming from these days. Especially women with one or all of the following: jobs, families, pets, household responsibilities, personal care, etc.
We have been told we can have it all and in the process we have set ourselves on fire. Or worse, we have let others set us on fire for their own gain. They have taken advantage of our warmth.
Now we are left burned. And hurting. Yet life moves on.
Kids still need to get to school and activities. We have careers we show up for with smiles on our faces. Our homes need to be clean-ish. Our families have this crazy expectation to be fed. Even our pets want treats every time we walk in the door, even if it was just to get the mail. It’s exhausting.
So Sunday evening, after a particularly trying weekend, the thought crossed my mind:
What if I just stopped talking?
I spend a lot of time up in my head with my thoughts but this was a weird one, even for me. It’s now Wednesday and I have finally figured out what that my silence would ideally achieve.
If I stopped talking, people would see me.
They would have to look. Forced to make eye contact. Forced to read expressions. Forced to make gestures… some probably not so nice if we’re being honest.
We don’t see each other anymore. Our noses are buried in electronic devices. Even as we are rushing from activity to activity or chasing the next big promotion, we are texting and emailing instead of seeing the other person.
And this lack of seeing others; I don’t believe it’s a female specific issue either. But because I’m a woman, this is my own perspective. And because this is me, I’m going to tell you what I, along with most women, long to hear:
I see you.
I see your frustration. I see your tears. I see your hurt over the destruction of addiction. I see your worry over your kids. I see the times you clean up messes made by other adults you are supposed to be able to count on. I see your struggles because we all have them. I see the well-intentioned fire you started to keep others warm and I see the harm it is doing to you.
It’s time to stop the madness. Put the fire out and help another woman put her fire out as well. Because there is more than one way to generate warmth. Community instead of competition would be an excellent place to start.
Build a different kind of fire. One that illuminates and allows us to see and support each other. We can all do better.
And one last thing, take a look in the mirror and see yourself. I did that this morning and saw a woman doing her very best, and purposed to keep talking. Without as many sparkly words.