A few months ago, I was at a gathering with a group of vibrant, strong, powerful women.
There was not one in the room who I would ever use the words “needy” or “weak” to describe.
And when a group of strong women get together, we have a certain camaraderie and understanding—that this is a safe space where we can let down our guard and not be strong. This is a place where we can come together and admit our greatest fears and challenges, our darkest pain, and the unspoken needs we can’t say aloud in the real world.
One woman was brave enough to speak her own truth. I don’t usually like to quote someone, as we all hear and interpret things differently, but if I had to sum up what her truth was, it went something like this:
“I saw so many of you last night holding each other and I wanted so much to be held. But I couldn’t ask for it. I think people see me as this put-together mama bear, always taking care of everyone else, so they think I don’t need anything. Nobody even thought to hold me.
But I needed it. And I just didn’t know how to ask.”
It was not so much her words that were heart-wrenching as it was her tears. And as I watched them fall down her face, I felt my own tears burning hot in the back of my eyes, wanting to escape.
Because I am her.
And I am just one of a long line of successful, accomplished, bad-ass, polished and put together women you see walking the streets with an “I got this baby—I don’t need no one else” attitude.
We are the women who take care of children, pack lunches, shuttle to soccer practice and play dates, and whip up dinner. All day long, we manage the social calendar, wipe the tears, clean the scrapes, kiss the bruises, and break up the constant sibling fights—and we never say we need a break.
We are the ones who hold space, encourage, love, support, and nurture every human being who crosses our path, yet rarely ask for anything back.
We run multi-million dollar corporations, work in the Oval Office, create, write, and produce Emmy-award-winning TV shows, and fight in the military.
When you see one of these women, know that there’s something we desperately need, something we aren’t saying out loud. We’ve convinced ourselves that asking makes us weak and needy, that we aren’t deserving of having that one thing our souls are calling out for.
We want you to ask us how we’re doing.
And when we say we’re fine, we want you to push us harder and ask us again, “How are you really doing?”
We want you to offer, “Can I do anything for you?”
When you see that we’re clearly over-extending ourselves because you can spot the haggard look of exhaustion in our eyes, we want you to ask with all sincerity, “Can I help you?”
We want you to wrap your arms around us without ever having to ask, and hold us tightly for at least 30 seconds. We want you to stroke our hair just because it feels good. We want you to offer to watch our kids for an hour because we’d never consider asking for such a favor just so we can shut off our minds and quiet the noise in our weary heads.
We want you to tell us we don’t have to be so damn strong. We want you to remind us it’s okay to be tired, to be fed up, to be angry, to not keep doing and running and producing all these things we think we’re supposed to be doing in the world.
We want love.
Yes, we know we are surrounded by it, but we need you to remind us we are loved by you.
And sometimes, we just want you to do something totally outrageous, extravagant, and indulgent for us because we’d never in a million years do it for ourselves.
Some people may say in response to all of this, “Well if y’all are so strong, why don’t you just learn to speak up and ask for what you need?”
And my response to that is: because we often don’t realize that we need anything at all.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman