I am very much like a man when it comes to giving and receiving affection.
Giving me food goes a long way. Seriously, if you feed me, that’s automatic bonus points and I will begin to love you on some level, even if you’re my arch-nemesis or something. The saying should be, “The way to Lady’s heart is through her stomach.” Truer words would have never been spoken. Ask any of my friends.
On the other hand, when it comes to giving affection I am primarily a task-oriented organism. If something is wrong in the life of someone I love my immediate thought is, “How can I fix this?”
This gets me into a lot of trouble in life, particularly when it comes to my female loved ones. I’m a pretty good listening ear, so that gets me about halfway when it comes to humans of the female variety. But then when it gets to the point where they’re finished talking I’m like, “Okay, go team. Huddle up. How can we find a solution to this problem?”
Sometimes that’s super helpful and people will credit me for being such a good problem-solver they can run to. But other times that response just isn’t appropriate. The issues of life are not always immediately fixable. In fact, sometimes they are immediately fixable, but it’s a problem only the person in trouble can solve for themselves. So I’m left sitting there with my lasso of truth dangling uselessly at my side because it has no villain to latch onto. I’ll feel helpless, as though I can’t help them and that my role is complete because I can do no more.
The problem with that type of thinking is, even though you can’t always solve your loved ones problems, they don’t always need you to. Many times they just want you to sit with them while they solve it themselves.
This has been a hard lesson for me to learn.
I’ve failed at it time and time again. Backing away from a loved one’s situation and leaving them to wrestle with it on their own because, “Well, I’m not doing anything anyway.”
That’s not to say I don’t wave encouragingly on the sidelines cheering them on, checking in every once in a while to see if I can be of assistance at a different point in time, but that isn’t enough. I’m too far away. Sometimes people need you to sit right up close to them while they tackle their demons, simply for moral support.
I don’t know why that’s been such a difficult lesson for me to learn. It’s probably a breed of selfishness. I feel uncomfortable not being able to do what I do best, (problem solving), so I choose to give them space so I don’t feel like so much of a failure. It’s hard to watch a loved one in pain and know there’s nothing you can do about it. But I keep forgetting that being by someone’s side, right up close, is not nothing. Sometimes it’s the most heroic thing you can do.