Monday, April 20, 2015

What Support Looks Like Now

Everybody needs support. I'm no exception in this regard.

I've always had support. I know how wonderful it feels to be supported. It's one of the best feelings in the world. I don't take it for granted.

I also know what it feels like not to have support. For me, this feeling is usually temporary. The sense of free fall or flailing is uncomfortable, but eventually I will find the help I need or it will find me.

Support is important in regular day-to-day life. If there's a particular ongoing challenge then it is of upmost importance.

For me, support takes many forms. It can be friends, Jeremy, close family members, doctors, social workers, therapists, teachers. It can be support groups, retreats, seminars and lectures. It can be books, blogs, podcasts and even TV. It can be Facebook and Twitter.

It can be designers, carpenters, painters, or a fantastic professional organizer.

It can be medication, exercise, particular foods, and extra sleep. It can be a smile from a stranger, the right words, an unexpected gift. It can be a kick in the pants.

There are times when arranging support for one of my children also feels like support for me because of the peace of mind it gives me.

Sometimes I seek out support, and sometimes it just lands in my lap. I will say one thing. I must be very lucky because the universe seems to have plenty of it to go around.

When it comes to inanimate sources of support - things like books - I don't have to worry about wearing out my welcome. I can re-read the same chapter, put a post it note there, or memorize the words.

When it comes to people, I am mindful not to go to the same well too many times. I don't want to be a nuisance. I don't want to be cringe-worthy.

So far, I've been talking about being on the receiving end. I also give support. Oftentimes this feels natural. I am competent because I offer support in areas that represent my strengths. In other words, I might offer to cook, babysit, listen to you, go to a meeting with you, help you organize your stuff, talk about your art, or make recommendations. I can help you find the silver lining.

I won't offer to fix your car, put together IKEA, bake a cake, or drive you somewhere because I either dislike doing these things or have no competency in them. But I am resourceful. I can match you with someone who is good at it.

I can listen to you vent but if it goes on too long, I'm going to shift gears and be solution-oriented. Some people find this annoying.

I recently found myself in the uncomfortable position of seeking support from two different sources. I'm not going to say more than this about particulars. It may have been a who or a what. It may have been a place or a thing.

The who, what, place or thing used to be supportive. Now unexpectedly they were not.

This felt bad. Then I felt bad about feeling bad.

This got me thinking more deeply about the concept of support. Once I started thinking
like this, I felt better about it. Thinking differently about support started feeling like an actual support.

Here's what I came up with.

It's easy to believe that when a place, person, food, thing, book or group has been so supportive that they will keep on being so. Sometimes this is true.

But sometimes without warning that who, what, where will no longer be there for you.

The reason could be concrete. It is discontinued. You no longer qualify. The person leaves. The resource lost its funding. The store closed. There is no more pecan pie.

The concrete stuff can sting. But I manage. There are other pathways. There are other resources.

Other times things are nebulous. The chemistry is wrong when it used to be right. The book that was a tonic feels lacking. The group is there but no longer a fit. What used to work doesn't. The friend is permanently distracted. The doctor has too big a caseload.

Sometimes its not the who, the what, or the where. I can't figure out why, or I decide that there is no good explanation. Sometimes it's not any of this. It's me.

The book hasn't changed. The institution is the same. The dose is unaltered. The person is present. What happened is that I changed.

What felt like support one week or one year ago isn't. It's inadequate, not enough, off target or off kilter. It may need a tweak, a nudge or a complete makeover. It's either untenable or somewhat negotiable.

What was good for point A isn't for point B.

Here's something that came out of my analysis. Wanting support isn't a sign of weakness. It doesn't make me a hopeless neurotic. Self-awareness will hopefully keep me from being a pain in the neck. Frequent thinking about support will keep me from barking up the wrong tree.

Using my talent to give support to other people means that the river flows in more than one direction.

Thinking about support this way takes the critical voice right out of it.

Today, I accepted support from someone whose advice was razor sharp. Because of her, I feel revitalized and excited by my next steps.

I served as a combination of the voice of perspective and a distraction for a different individual.

I am ordering some good books to augment my talks with people. I've said this before. When the going gets tough, the tough get reading. The time may be ripe for a support group. I'll be researching that as soon as I'm finished with this.

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