By Mariette Reineke
The other day I walked into a coffee place at the Dam. I was too early for work and could do with a warm place to sit. But not only that, I was in need of something else. Before I knew it I had ordered a soya decaf latte, something I had not ordered for a long time.
What’s going on, I asked myself. Now there is no crime in drinking a decaf soya latte, don’t get me wrong, but I could feel the comfort of my choice. This is not just a soya latte, but in truth a solace coffee. There was something I did not want to feel. Just like all of us, I have my moments where I seek comfort and relief, but I don’t always want to admit this to myself, let alone to others. With big Bambi eyes I sat down behind the big window, where this tall window washer was just doing his work. Well, my mind said, just the perfect moment to start crying Mariette, in the middle of this public place with a window washer in your face. What to do? Do I allow myself to feel the sadness and admit that I am hurt, or do I make the choice to put up my ‘oh everything is fine’ mask and pretend that everything is ‘good’? I allowed myself to feel, and while enjoying the sweet taste of my coffee, the tears came.
When I arrived at work, the sadness was still there. I walked into my work space and after my colleague asked me how I was doing, I shared what was going on. We had an open and honest conversation which gave both of us space to feel and just be. But not only that, the honesty also gave space to a deepening of our relationship. It felt like a huge support. I shared with some friends in a whatsapp group what was going on and we realized that we can be far more honest with each other. I think that I am quite open and honest, but the so called nitty gritty, I don’t always share.
It made me wonder and ponder: how honest are we really with each other? Many times I share a part of the truth which makes me part-timer when it comes to honesty. The parts that I hold back are the parts that have shame, quilt, a fear of reaction or rejection, or that I get judged. They can be very small parts, that appear to be innocent, but it is actually these parts that invite me to heal, grow and evolve. But not only that, these parts bring a depth in the relationship with myself and others.
So how honest are we really with ourselves, our partners, colleagues, family, friends and children? But also, how honest are we as women with each other? In my experience and in all my daily interactions with women, I notice that there are still many things we don’t share. We are great at making up excuses, pandering to each other, overriding what we feel and telling ourselves that things are great, while in fact our body is saying something else. We share, but we leave out the why behind our choices and how we truly live.
Do we for instance share when we feel an emptiness and that we do many things to not feel that emptiness, or that we need to drink alcohol regularly to not feel the hard edges of life. Do we express that we have pain while having sex or that we have things going on with our vagina, or that we at times scream to our children and feel completely powerless in our role as mother. Or that we hate our body or don’t want to touch our own breasts, that we have candida or other uncomfortable physical issues, or that we are afraid of intimacy and try to avoid this by watching porn or have an affair. Do we admit to each other that when things get tough, we’d rather escape into social events and entertainment, or that we actually feel sad but don’t have a clue why because we have everything we need, or that for years we have not been intimate with our partner, that we have painful periods and really don’t like this aspect of being a woman and therefor take the pill or a spiral in order to manage it. Do we share that we eat chocolate every evening because we miss love, or that we feel like giving up because we don’t want to take responsibility, that we have a lack of self-worth, that we take pills, that we eat in order to not feel or numb ourselves, that we have sleeping issues, that we are jealous, that we are exhausted but just keep on going because this is normal. Or that we feel lonely, that we use sex to connect, that we do things because we need recognition and attention, that we had an abortion or a miscarriage, that our relationship has is going through some stormy weather, that we don’t love ourselves or even know how to do this, that we never really wanted children but have them anyway, that we look at other men while we are in a relationship, that we cheat, that we are in menopause and how this reflects to us how we live as a woman. Do we admit that we have addictions, that we need sugar every day to make life sweeter (or because we are tired), that we think we are a bad mother or, very simple: do we in the moment openly and honestly share how we feel and/or that we have been hurt.
There is much more going on behind closed doors, behind the masks we wear and the walls we build around ourselves for protection. There is so much more going on in our relationship with ourselves. There is so much more to being a woman, there is so much more to share, but do we dare to honestly share this with each other?
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