A close friend of mine got some awful news today. She texted me, asking if I wanted to have lunch, and shared said news.
I texted her back immediately and said I was going to get her a milkshake.
When I first heard about it, my whole body thrummed like a high tension wire being hit with a baseball bat. My stomach knotted. My head pounded. My empathy-flight-or-fight mechanism went off, hard.
I'm a sensitive sort. At first I was going to say "sensitive snowflake", but then I corrected myself, because that's a value judgment, and a nasty one.
I've been listening to Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability lately, and learning a lot from it. One thing I've learned is that there's this social filter in place, especially in men, where we tend to see ourselves as either Viking or Victim.
We're either winning or losing. Champ or Chump.
It's a toxic fucking lie, filled with shame and expectation.
After a few minutes of calming my breathing, expressing my sorrow to loved ones about my friend's situation, I did some self-care of my own. I went and got some Oreos from our company kitchen.
Funny thing about that. Another lesson I picked up from the book is often we are able to see and appreciate vulnerability and the need for self-care in others, but struggle to see it in ourselves.
I'm super focused on this sort of stuff lately. Part of leveraging my own vulnerability, part of living in a whole-hearted way is placing value on my own self-care. Oreos might not be the most nutritionally healthy choice at the moment, but they were absolutely a good emotional choice.
Now I feel armed to go help my friend. I've got my empathy close at hand.
It's going to go well with that milkshake.