A friend who’d been ill shared with me that she wanted people to call her and not text her to check in on her. She said it felt more intimate, more caring to her. She felt frustrated and hurt when people texted, even though she knew people meant well.
I suggested she tell her friend who kept texting and not calling her directly. Her friend may simply not know that this was more helpful and would probably respond and call her. She shared her need with her friend and the friend called. Being direct works with some people.
I recently experienced a loss of an elderly family friend. I shared by phoning some close friends and texting others less close or unavailable at that moment. I realized that in a crisis or in a state of feeling loss or sadness, that being called and hearing a live voice, felt more intimate and more caring and more grounding. I decided to tell a few friends that I appreciated the care but preferred a phone call to a text or a general one-sided inquiry. It felt like texting deep feelings was too much for me when sad. But sharing feelings in a phone call felt easier.
Telling people what you need is never easy in the moment. Some people responded asap, calling and just being there. Their voices felt like a tonic to me and cheered me up. I’m still amazed and cheered up by how good it felt. The texting of others made me feel frustrated even when I had been direct about preferring them not to text but call. So I let the feelings go until I felt better and thought about this issue.
Why could some people still not reach out by phone even when I said I’d prefer to talk directly?
The functions of communication are idiosyncratic. Texting can be a useful and fun tool but when I felt sad, it did not do the trick. I wanted the immediacy of a human voice. Sadness and loss and just showing up for another can be very hard for some. Texting removed the pain for them. They thought about themselves and didn’t want to overstep or be intrusive, even when explained that it was preferred that they call and their voices would be welcomed.
Just stepping up and being there and not feeling anything more is required by another, IS being there!
There is no magic script. Crises, illness, death and loss exist in day to day life and sadness and vulnerability and loss are feelings that people are discouraged to share. Being vulnerable and sad could be seen as “not ok”, not “productive” as if the only state of being is to be “fine” and “handling” everything with ease.
I liken it to the weather. Why judge a cloudy day? Why judge how it needs to be?
And doesn’t a rainy, grey day make the sunny day feel the more appreciated?
Why not find peacefulness in the lack of perfection? Why not try to develop the ability to let go of a need to “fix” everything and show up?
The realization that we have little control is a positive one. The knowledge that ALL we need to do is give care and love, kindness and compassion, judge less and call more, is heartening.
And expect nothing back, knowing that giving of oneself to others in a time of crisis or sadness, is indeed a wonderful part of our humanity that IS showing up.
So if whether to call or to text, or to text or to call, leaves you wondering, think about it.
Step up in the way that pleases and comforts another….even if it is a little out of your own comfort zone. It will be appreciated and it will exponentially allow you to feel good about just being there for another. That’s powerful in the most beautiful ways!