Hello everyone! The Unleashed One here.
Typically, I would already have a starting point to lead into the subject at hand. Today, I'm just going to free flow. If the thoughts seem all over the place, charge it to the lack of format.
This pandemic has changed the trajectory of how we do things and interact. It will still linger long after the worst of it is over.
For some individuals who weren't big on socializing anyway, it may feel as if it it's just another day in your typical perception. For others who are ambiverts or extroverts, it can be extremely trying.
Now that I've gotten that side note out of the way, back to the main topic.
For individuals who act as the strong one (or the rock), whether in their romantic relationships, friendships, or family, it can be a struggle. The strong one is in a conundrum. See, the strong one is placed in the position to be the cheerleader, the assistant, the therapist (you name it) for others while rarely having the outlet in the rare moments the situation is reversed.
There are moments, whether intentionally or unintentionally, where others believe that it is still business as usual for the strong.
The strong one may even behave like business as usual. Knowing when to listen. Knowing the right thing to say. Coming up with the very thing to do. Yet, few know (or even inquires) what happens after the other person has received reassurance, assistance, or healing.
The strong keeps breathing but with a little less stamina. Listening, healing, aiding, requires energy. Taking from one's self so that the other can keep functioning.
Yes, the strong should speak up. Maybe the strong has tried, only to get interrupted by the next emergency that has to be addressed. Or other topics the other wants to speak on, now that the immediate need has been met. When the other person finishes talking, the strong one may have decided that the topic is not nearly as pressing as before. Or just wants to disengage completely.
Now, I'm going to speak on myself.
Point 1: I am lousy at asking for help. That comes from it being instilled to do it on my own.
Point 2: I have had lackluster experiences when I have asked for help, either through undependability, not coming through at all, or straight being lied to. Henceforth, circling back to the 1st point.
Point 3: The moments when I have shared with some people, instead of just listening, the following happens:
(a) They start talking on their experiences, which changes it from my having a listening ear to once again being a therapist to their issues
(b) They make it a comparison match in terms of struggle or situation
(c) They immediately try to fix it, without even checking to see if it's what I require
(d) They give the cookie cutter answer ("You'll be alright.", "God will get you through it.", etc.) when I maybe too vulnerable to get in that space
When those happen, I go back to point one, along with disengaging.
I say all of that to say this:
- Check on your strong friend. He may not have spoken on the status of the "okayness" but at least ask, even if the generic answer of "I'm fine" is given. He will appreciate it.
- If you are able to fix the debacle without his assistance, attempt to do so.
- Try not to bombard him all at once with emergencies. It can get overwhelming, even if it's what he's used to doing.
- When your strong friend opens up, respect him and listen. Control the desire to interrupt. If the issue is about you, resist the time to rebut until he's finished talking.
- Don't insist on fixing. Ask if there's something you can do to help.
- Have conversations that aren't focused on healing. The strong need to rejuvenate as well. You know the whole "good vibes only" saying? The strong need these moments more than you may realize.
Last but certainly not least:
- If your strong friend needs a break, respect the space.
For when the strong are at their peaks, they are better functioning as friends, lovers, coworkers, and the like.
Until next time,