I didn’t know when I started to shake and was shedding tears for the pain that was the lot of this new friend I just made. It just seemed as though she had moved from one level of pain to another, all through her life, and she’s just 29.
And if our discussion hadn’t turned to Daddy issues that day, she probably wouldn’t have shared this aspect of her life with me. I will call her Sandra, for the sake of this article. Sandra and I had known each other for a few months, before this revelation came out, and again, I’m amazed at the amount of pain that she was carrying.
However, I also understood her drive and wariness with which she approached men issues. If I were in her shoes too, I would probably have become a heart breaker, but thank God she’s a mom now, and that makes a whole lot of difference.
While we chatted about men in general, she revealed how her dad had ceased to care about his family, when her mom had her second girl. He scouted for, and got, another wife, who went on to have three girls, ironically. Talk about running from fire, only to jump into hot water. Anyways, he came home briefly and her mom got pregnant and gave birth to her last child, who was a boy.
Even that did not bring home her father. He had sold his soul to the world, and it was a hassle to retrace his steps, so he just kept going and never looked back.
When Sandra turned 19, he came home and brought with him a man, whom he told his oldest daughter had paid her bride price, and that he was here to take her to his home.
With a mom begging her to do her father’s bidding, her father insisting she must do his bidding, a man she had seen in her entire life only once begging for her hand in marriage, and promising to treat her well, Sandra gave in, and the next six years of her life were a horror best imagined.
From domestic violence, to being alone during the childbirth of her babies, and having to find her way to the hospital on her own, as her husband would have gone out to drink for reinforcement. Sandra saw it all.
I was in physical pain, by this time in our chat. When her second child was 3 years old, her husband left and never returned, and for that, she was ever thankful.
She returned to her mom’s house, and there started to pick up the pieces of her life once more; she returned to school, got a job, and started fending for her children and herself.
And this is where it gets even more interesting. After 10 years of not seeing his children, or fending for them, he wanted them back, or at least the girl, and Sandra found out that it was because his wife was pregnant and they needed help. I was angry. My tears dried, I wanted to descend on that man with every venom in my mind and have some supernatural powers to beat him up.
I wanted to send an army of lawyers after him, and get a court injunction stipulating he can’t come within 100 meters of her and her children. Different thoughts came into my mind, but the anger that I felt was undeniable.
The anger was in Sandra too; it showed on her face, and she was one mother’s hen, whose chicks are being threatened. And as she told me the steps she had taken already to protect her children, I knew she was on track, and I offered to help even though I had no clear idea how she would like my help, expect my first instincts to hurt her man and also get legal protection.
But I also know some small ways I can make things a little easy on her, and I have started do so. You see, we may not be blood sisters, but we are sisters of the heart, because we are both women and I’m a staunch supporter of the women supporting women movement. I’m a product of that movement, and I have seen it over time that a lot can be achieved, if women work together.
It’s good to be emphatic, but it’s even more awesome to be able to lend a helping hand when you can, to make a sister’s life easier and here are a few ideas to help that your sister who is going through a tough time, who is just living her life and could do with a smile, your smile.
When someone is suffering because of a mistake they have made, or other circumstances that’s making their lives less than happy, the last thing they want to hear is your judgment. It really doesn’t help the situation at all and, in fact, it can make your loved one less likely to come to you for support.
When people are going through issues, it is a bad idea to judge them. Just be there for them and don’t inject your values or opinions in the situation, unless they ask for them. And 99% of the time they won’t want to hear them.
“Please do not worry about responding.”
This is a powerful line that says you care and are available, if they want to reach out, but it’s not expected.
When you end your messages with this line, you have to mean it too. If your friend is anything like most people, she will agonize over phone calls, emails, and texts that she hasn’t been able to return.
Assure her that you don’t expect a response in an hour, a day, or even a week. You just want her to know that you are thinking of her, and are available if and when she wants to talk. And when she does want to talk, it may be about “the thing”, or it may be about anything other than “the thing.” Let her know either is okay.
Learn as much as you can
Imagine your wife or husband has depression, but you don’t know much about it. You might take all the symptoms to be attacks on you and just think they are just being moody, grumpy or mean. In actual fact, they are suffering from a disease and the mood swings and angry responses are symptoms of their illness and need to be dealt with carefully.
If you educate yourself on the problem, whatever it is, you will find yourself better able to deal with the person and more able to support them.
Make her laugh
There is no way to overstate the importance of laughter through challenging times. The heaviness creeps in and takes such a strong hold that it can sometimes feel like you are actually being suffocated, like you have just forgotten how to breathe.
The only way to fight that feeling is to bring in its opposing force; laughter.
Unless your friend has a zero sense of humor, please do not be afraid of telling a joke. Laughter is healing.
With these tips, you will make an impact and that is all that matters at the end of the day.
Hold a sister’s hand, bear a sister up and we are made stronger in the end.
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