This week, I had conversations with two women who were embarking on something new and feeling overwhelmed. One situation was far more welcome than the other, but I couldn’t help draw parallels between the two.
Last night, we visited dear friends and their brand new baby boy. He is the picture of perfect health – tiny and round and pink. He has cheeks made to be kissed and a head of soft hair that frames his perfect, gorgeous face.
I spoke with the new mum about the delivery and her first few days with her beautiful little boy. I could hear in her voice confusion as she related stories of being told different things by different people. Who should she listen to? Was the midwife right? Or friends with kids? What about her mum?
Earlier in the week, I had a call from a woman who had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was about three weeks in and confused, stressed and scared. She felt that everything she was doing was wrong and was being given different advice from, it seemed, everyone she spoke with. Who should she believe? Her doctor? Her diabetes educator? Her friend who’d lived with diabetes for the last 26 years?
I listened to both these women and heard what they were saying. I had no advice for either of them – I just listened, and nodded and acknowledged the confusion. I didn’t want to add to their uncertainty by throwing my thoughts into the ring.
But I did try to reassure both of them. I wanted them to hear that they would be okay. I know that it sounds a little Pollyanna-ish to say that, but I really meant it. I pointed out that everyone makes mistakes or tries one thing and then another and then another until they find what works for them. That’s okay. And if the thing that works is different from what everyone around them suggests, that is perfectly fine.
I tried to acknowledge that their lack of confidence is understandable, but that as each day passes, and they work out their situation, they will start to feel more secure in their choices.
The thing I’ve learnt when it comes to peer support is that often, it’s not about just sharing your story. Although that’s a big part of it, the other side is listening and reassuring. People want to know that they will be okay.
Happy Friday – enjoy your weekend. Kick it off with David Sanborn. Bang Bang! (If this doesn’t get you up and dancing and clapping your hands, nothing will.)