For the most part, the women in my life have been hugely supportive - I have friends I can talk to about things that are going on in my family, other friends are there when I need to get out and kick up my heels, and still others that I turn to when I need work-related or other kinds of backing.
I don't know if men have that kind of support; in fact, I think that men turn to their wives for emotional support -- whether it's job-related, something to do with the kids, or other family concerns. But in my experience, men generally don't want to show their neediness outside the home.
Sometimes women are like that, too.
But on the whole, women are OK showing up with their emotional needs and asking for help.
In my coaching practice, I see women who aren't always so good asking for other kinds of help -- they don't, for example, feel right asking for someone to look after the kids when they can't find a babysitter.
My friend, Karen is like that -- she has a child with special needs and -- if her hubby isn't available to look after the kids, she just doesn't go out. What a shame!
And my friend Joy is like that, too! Or at least, she was. Her hubby was ill, in a chronic care facility. She felt she needed to be there with him as much as her day would allow. But that never included going out and having fun. She chose to forego any 'fun' activities while he was ill. But he died a few months back -- and now Joy is learning to bring fun back into her life. She's learning again how to experience JOY!
In fact, several of us supported her in that and bought her a gift package to the SPA so she could just go and be pampered for a whole day. Her face just beamed when she told us how that experience was for her.
My friend Bernice regularly sends me funny e-mails. When I was laid up for several months after a car accident, it was Bernice and her humorous offerings that helped keep me sane.
I've kept a folder of all the jokes Bernice has sent me -- there are over 500 of them! And each month, when I send out my newsletter, I always include one -- you never know who might need a lift just like that.
Women seem to be like that -- they have a sixth sense that tells them just what another person needs. Have you noticed that?
My niece Jenny also has that same sense. She recently lost her mother and now (I think) she turns to me for that motherly kind of advice and support. She sent me the funniest e-mail on Mothers' Day. I laughed right out loud, and passed it on to the rest of my family who also had such a hoot.
So if you're finding yourself in need of support, and don't know where to look, here are a few suggestions for you:
First, recognize that it's OK for you to NEED support. Just because your husband has a golf-game that weekend, or his hockey game is on that night, doesn't mean that you shouldn't also do something you need or want to do. It may come as a surprise to him that you value your own needs right up there with his (and everyone else's); but stand firm -- loving, but firm. Ask for his help arranging for a babysitter, or arriving at some other solution to the conflict.
Second, do not make the mistake of giving up your opportunity to have fun -- just because someone else needs your time. Here's an example: in my experience, there are times when what I need is absolute quiet -- at the end of a day, especially when I've been in intense meetings and had other huge demands placed on me, I need an hour to decompress before I'm ready to give again. My family sometimes balks at that. They shout accusations that I never want to listen to them, or that I'm always buried in my book.
I've calmly let them know that I will listen to them and want to know what is so important to them, but that it will have to wait until I've had some down time. (This takes some doing, believe me; but it's worth it in the end if you stick to your guns. Eventually, they come to realize that your needs are important, too.)
Third, engage your whole family in these kind of discussions. Help them get to know you as a human being -- not just a machine that turns out the clean laundry, the meals, the shopping.
When I first started teaching kindergarten, my little students often thought I lived at the school. They had difficulty seeing me as a person who went home, had a life, and lived just like they did. There's a good chance that -- in some ways -- your family may have the same kind of blinders on when they think about you.
Finally, treat yourself as you would a 'best friend'. If she came to you asking for the same kind of support, how would you respond? Once you know the answer to that, choose to respond to your own needs in the same way. If you don't value your own needs, who else is going to?