For a stay-at-home housewife/mother, solitude can become a problem. Of course we are surrounded (constantly, even in the bathroom) by the love and laughter of our children, but actual face-to-face grown up contact is a rarity. At least it is for me. My husband works two jobs back to back, and we only have one car. There is very little adult face time in my everyday life. The sense of cabin fever, and loneliness can sometimes become a very heavy feeling.
Add in a pile of family crises, and it becomes overwhelming. To say that things have been chaotic for us of late would be a gross understatement. If there is bad karma to be received, we are receiving it. People have been sick. People have died. People have disappeared. People have undergone major surgeries, or have major surgeries pending. This has been a very, very strange couple of months.
Thankfully, and completely out of character, my husband and I have maintained. The stress has not (yet) caused me to experience a toddler-grade meltdown, and he and I have managed not to take it out on each other. In fact, he has been incredible. And I believe that the composure between the two of us has helped make things seem a little easier.
What? Behaving like reasonable, mature people who respect and love each other, makes stresses easier to handle? Who knew?
So we're slow learners. Being grown up is hard.
As wonderful and supportive as he has been, it still doesn't take the place of the support of a friend, immediately outside of your circle. A person who loves, but is not "required" to love you. A person who is there for you strictly of his or her own choosing, and not because there is a marital, or a familial obligation to do so. There is great strength in knowing that someone chooses to support you in a crisis, simply because they love you, and nothing more.
As a woman, there is sometimes nothing that can equal the support and laughter of other women. A circle of ladies, sharing of themselves, and helping a person to feel supported, surrounded, and loved. A coven of women, sharing their laughter and their sorrows, without judgement, and in kind, accepting yours.
My family received some strange and terribly sad news this week, and consequently there has been a chalky fog in my house, as we decide how to process this news. The feeling of being swamped in isolation became nearly overwhelming as a result. I wanted to hide, to sulk, to mope.
But, rather than canceling plans that were set into motion a month ago, I kept them. And I filled my house with lovely women, old friends and new, and they brought with them their healing laughter, and unspoken support. We shared wine and food, swear words and talk of aging bodies, husband and boyfriend stories, our woes and triumphs of parenting and marriage, and they refreshed me. I am grateful.
I find it fascinating, the energy between women.
There is such relief and comfort in hearing another woman talk about a struggle or a burden that you're facing yourself. There is power in knowing that we share the same struggles. With our children. Our husbands. Our bodies. It's soothing to know that we are not alone, even when we are certain that's the case.
It is entirely too easy for me to make a habit of staying isolated. Socializing begins to take on a frightening form, and so I allow myself to withdraw from it, which creates a sort of vicious cycle, leaving me lonely, and socially hungry. I am grateful to this recent circle of women, who came to pull me from the fog with their laughter. I am grateful to myself for accepting their healing presence. I am eager for the next gathering of women, and food, and wine.
I will embrace it as medicine.
The woman-strength thing. Not the wine thing.
Although the wine was nice, too.