Linus has the right idea. When things are tough, we all want a soft blanket and a thumb. When I was a child, I didn’t have a blanket to carry. I had some small cloth dolls that fell apart in a few years. I had a revolving door of stuffed animals, but I wasn’t allowed to carry one with me all the time. Yet I was scared and anxious all the time, so I found solace in what could not be taken from me: my thumb. I eventually got over that with a lot of coercion and discipline. As adults, though, we don’t have that type of crutch. So when we have a bad day, we may go for a cup of tea, glass of wine, sitcom, novel, or video game. So as an adult, what do I do? A few of us in my immediate family make a phone call.
When I receive a call and hear a voice say, “I just needed to hear your voice.” I know that it’s a thumb and blankie day for one of my loved ones. Or they may say, “I just need to hear the voice of someone who’s sane.” They really mean they needed the comfort of hearing someone who loves them. No matter how much someone else was mean, inconsiderate, belittling, or intimidating, they need to know that it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. The bad day is just that – a bad DAY – not that they are as wretched as they feel. They know they are okay because they hear me saying I love them, because I answered their call, and because I am listening.
I’m grateful for these lifeline calls because for many years I had no one I could call. It made me stronger, but it was lonely and miserable. So when I can be on the other end of the line for another, my heart warms, knowing that they have been/will be on the other end of the line for me, too. I know that together, we understand that the harsh situation is just temporary. It will be okay because we have someone irrevocably on our side. We talk each other through bad bosses, migraines, anxiety attacks, and tears. Our calls don’t have to be long, they just have to remind us of our authentic connection.
My daughter and I talked about this today, and she asked me what happens when her dad and I both have one of those days at the same time. Has it happened? Not recently, thank goodness. I tried to remember. We hold hands, I told her. We hug each other. Somehow that physical intimacy conveys a wealth of “I have your back” and “it will be okay; we’ll do it together.” We may even cry together, but crying together is never as bad as crying alone.
Someone in my family had a stressful day today, and I got to be that person’s thumb and blankie. It looked like a squeeze of the hand, a kiss on the cheek, or a warm hand on a knee, but we both knew what it really was. I’m happy to serve.
What is your go-to comfort object or activity? Do you have someone who is your thumb and blankie?