I am torn between wishing there were more men at meetings and then not feeling comfortable sharing when men do come to meetings. There are all kinds of things I don’t want to share in mixed company, and breast cancer is one of them. I have arrived at an age when my friends are starting to get diagnosed.
But there I was at Suppers, where I’m supposed to be working on my listening skills and honoring everyone’s personal and emotional space. So when breast cancer came up at a meeting one night and there were a couple of men there, I had one of those uncomfortable growth opportunities.
I have to give the men credit for showing up after a long day at work (why I need to give them more credit than I give the working women, I don’t know). One of them said, “Everything I know about breast cancer I learned from a man.” He had a good friend whose wife had been treated for it. What blew me away was that this man knew more about tumors and nodes and centimeters and radiation and chemo and herbs and medications than I did. For him to have known all that he must have had some very intimate conversations with his friend and his friend must have been willing to share some very personal details. This man spoke with such compassion for his friends that it blew all my prejudices about how men communicate right out of the water.
I decided that very night how I was going to work at being a better member of a group. I had two goals: to be more present in my listening and to be more real in my sharing. Even if a man talks in more typical guy fashion, I can listen to the content and stop judging the delivery.
Properly executing my role as a member of a group is important because the quality of the job I do determines the benefits I receive.