So, here’s the Girl Emergency Protocol drill. And perhaps a little bit of insight into Planet Girl for the boys. You’re welcome boys :-).
You’re a girl. You’re a girly girl. You love being a girl. And you love your girls.
You receive a call/email/SMS/visit/silent post-it note handed to you in the office from a belovedest galpal. She may not appear to be upset. She may be smiling, she may be calm, but you know. You can feel it. She’s distressed.
The bottom has fallen out of her world.
This doesn’t necessarily just mean she’s had her heart broken by a man. That is not the only kind of distress in life. It could be anything. A loved one passing. A child diagnosed with cancer. A miscarriage. A job lost. A reputation in tatters.
It could be any time of the day or night. It matters little.
So when you receive such a call – you initiate that extraordinary, XX chromosome-based, oestrogen-driven phenomenon known as the Girl Emergency Protocol.
You drop everything, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Whatever meetings you had booked or errands you had planned or flights you had to catch or chores you had on your todo list for the day get cancelled.
And you Go To Her. In whatever way you can.
You might Hustle Her Out Of That Office and tuck her into a quiet café corner with a hot chocolate and a listening ear. And your eyes water as you hear her speak of the burden she’s been secretly carrying for so long, all the while having to pretend all is well for the sake of children or husband or partner or parents or friends or others.
Or you get into your car and you Drive Across Town to pull her out of her apartment and you bring her to your place. You put her into the bed in your spare room with a cup of hot chocolate and your favourite childhood teddy bear. And you hold her hand and wipe her tears and cry with her and hug her. And when the tears have exhausted her, you tuck her into bed, give her one last hug goodnight and you tell her that you’re just in the next room if she needs anything. And that you’ll be there in the morning.
And you bring her whatever she needs. Tissues, chocolate, a chick flick, hot water bottle, eye makeup remover, tears to cry with her, wisecracks to make her giggle through her tears, and endless, endless hugs of reassurance.
Or, if she’s on another continent, you Get Onto Skype Pronto. And you lie around in your jimmy-jammies on your stomachs on your beds, legs swinging lazily in the air behind you, chins resting in hands or on laptops, unashamed of your bare-faces and messy tousled bed hair on camera, half a world apart but hearts knitted together, talking and listening and laughing and crying.
And holding onto each other for dear life. Figuratively and emotionally, if not literally.
The Girl Emergency Protocol knows no geographical boundaries. And it is no respecter of age, status, race or creed.
There have been many times when I have been on the receiving end of a Girl Emergency Protocol. Over the last year in particular, there are some beautiful women who have come into my life and picked up the pieces of me and prayed with me and gently put me back together and carried me at times when felt I could not exhale another breath. They are God’s gift to me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
There have been many times when I have been on the giving end of a Girl Emergency Protocol. Because I love the girlfriends who have been gifted into my life. I cherish every single one of them. And I would do anything for them. And I want them to know that they are loved, loveable and lovely. No matter what their life or circumstances might be trying to scream otherwise at them.
And sadly, there have been times when I have failed to be on the giving end of a Girl Emergency Protocol when I was needed the most by those closest to me. When a much-loved girl in my life has come to me in distress, I – for reasons both complex and simple but ultimately rooted in my own issues and hurt – have failed to be there for them. In fact rather than be there for them, instead, I have turned on them. Even as I love her so dearly, I hurt her so deeply almost in spite of myself. For which I am both convicted and ashamed.
As women, I believe we are capable of both the best and worst of human nature. We love more passionately, but when scorned we hate more intensely. That saying ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ wasn’t based on nothing! To some extent, without some effort and intervention otherwise on our part, that saying is very true. Generally, us girls are not prone to the middle ground (I say ‘generally’ because I know that we’re all different!)
The things that make us strong and noble in our femininity – our compassion, our empathy, our sensitivity, our open-heartedness – are the very things that can make us wretched and weak when we are hurt and we don’t harness that hurt into forgiveness and channel it into graciousness and good things.
Good things like the Girl Emergency Protocol.
Love you girls! You know you who are.