Social media has provided all of us a platform to over share. Selfies abound, bad behavior is celebrated, and the world knows the most intimate details of our lives. But while we’re willing to broadcast our lives on Facebook and Instagram when it comes to having a personal interaction we often hide our insecurities for fear of being judged.
For quite some time I was guilty of this myself. Many of my readers know my “back story” – my fist son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, my second son has severe intellectual disabilities, I went through a painful divorce which destroyed me financially and I cared for my dad who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until he passed away in January. Last, but certainly not least, I met a wonderful man, got re-married and, three weeks after our wedding, he was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I freely share on my blog the stories of my trials and triumphs. I’m an open book online because I feel that if I can help one person feel less alone I’ve done something worthwhile. As a life coach for midlife women and motivational speaker, I connect with hundreds of women and relate how I’ve overcome these challenges.
But for a long time, I wasn’t really happy. I kept up a good front for the people closest to me and never shared how I was truly feeling – overwhelmed, stressed and scared. Finally, one day a new friend who was getting glimpses into my world reached out to me and asked two simple questions – “Tell me what’s going on” and “How can I help?” For some reason I threw caution to the wind and shared everything with her – and I do mean everything – the good, the bad and the ugly. I figured it would send her running for the hills. I waited for a reply, secretly afraid that I had shared too much. Sure, there are a few close friends who know everything, but they had been in my life for years and lived through it. Sharing all of this with a new friend was unchartered territory. I was afraid that it would alter our new friendship and that she would think differently of me.
Her response came the next morning. “My heart is breaking for you. I can imagine how hard it was to write that e-mail. How can I help?” And with those few sentences I was writing a response and crying my eyes out. I confessed that while I could talk to literally thousands of people about my story, sharing with one person was close to impossible.
After that conversation I began talking to more people one-on-one. I shared my story and they shared their stories. For some, it took me to “break the ice” and admit to the challenges in my life before they felt safe opening up. But, once we started having honest talks, we were able to support each other when one of us was having a bad day. Our friendships grew richer and we’ve all grown personally and professionally
Most women don’t want to share what’s really going on in their lives. They’re afraid to admit to their friends that they’re drowning in debt. They feel trapped in abusive marriages because they’re afraid of the unknown and don’t know how they’ll support themselves. They don’t admit to the struggles they face parenting a child with a disability. We’ve been taught to hide our fears and vulnerabilities because they’re weaknesses that can be used against us.
The reality is everyone is going through rough times of some sort. Once we admit that we’re struggling, keep our ego in check and have honest conversations with friends, we allow supportive relationships to develop that can lead to true happiness. So instead of hitting the “Share” button, share with a friend in real life.
Looking for a place where strong and happy midlife women hang out to high-five each other? Join my Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous Fierce Females!