Building a web.

Do you have a good support system? Have you ever really given it much thought?

A good friend of mine once told me about a lesson she learned in therapy. It is all about building a web of support. She went on to explain that if you only have one person or very few people in your support circle, it is very easy to topple it all over. I picture it like trying to balance something on my fingers. Lets say it is a tray of food. If you only use one finger or two, it can be done but it is just as easily foiled by the gentlest of breezes. A completely broken mess is almost inevitable.
If you use your whole hand or both hands, it is far more difficult to knock that tray off. You can grab it with 2 hands, hold it steady, put one hand on top and one underneath if necessary. It takes a really strong force to upset it before it becomes the same broken mess.

Our support circle is no different. If you only have one or two people in your life, it is very easy to feel as if you have no support if that person becomes busy or is not there when you want them. It is also very stressful on that one special person even if they are also doing it to you.

If your support circle is larger and more diverse, it is so much more difficult for life to knock you over. If one friend is not home, you can call another, if they are not home either, you can walk to that coffee shop where they all know your name. If that fails as well? You can call someone from a support group that you’ve joined or a sponsor if you deal with addictions.

So many people do not have this wide support network built for themselves. I certainly didn’t. I had all my eggs laid in one basket and when that person disappeared for whatever the reason, I was screwed (for lack of a better word).
I also had people in my support circle who should not have been there. They were warm bodies filling space but they were not at all supportive. These people did a great job at creating situations where my one support was really put to the test. This was not at all fair to anyone involved.

So how do you change that? If you are dealing with people who should not be in your circle or your circle is very tiny, how do you go about improving that?
I can tell you what i have done. Maybe it will help you as well. šŸ™‚

The first thing I did was start saying goodbye to the damaging, non-supportive people in my life. This was HARD to do because I feared the loneliness that would surely follow… and it did. This also left me with more time though. Time that I used to build a stronger network. Truthfully? Looking back now? I really didn’t have to look all that far. There were lovely people all over the place that I had just largely ignored or assumed they would not want me closer to them. I also wore blinders and didn’t really look beside or behind me. Only at what was directly in front.

Support and good people can be found in a lot of places. It doesn’t matter if you live in a very rural place (as I do) or a bustling city, whether you are young or old, fit or unfit, metal stability doesn’t even need to be an issue. There are people and programs out there that anyone can fit in to. You just need to look for what is right for you.

Some suggestions? You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging right? šŸ˜‰

  • Look around you first. Who is there that you can count on. Pull them closer and offer them the sane support.
  • Family would be my next step. If your birth family is a bunch of useless knobs like some blogger I know very well, šŸ˜‰ look to the family you are creating, your spouse’s family, or begin creating a family out of people who begin to really care about you. It takes time but it’s worth it.
  • Churches are a good place to find support if you enjoy Church. I don’t so I look to other groups instead. Join in to a class or group. Help out in some way. Churches always seem to be in need of help and this in turn helps you feel good about yourself.
  • Most people have access to a community centre, mental health unit, a hospital, or more specific organizations. If you look around and ask questions, you will find groups that are run, support that is offered, chances to learn to skills, and so much more but you need to look. These things don’t just fall in to our laps very often. šŸ™‚ If you are in therapy or have a good doctor, ask him/her. Quite often they have information about a ton of things that they just do not share with everyone due to time constraints. If you ask though? Out comes the folder!
  • Volunteering is also a great way to meet people. Volunteer somewhere that you know you will love. If you are smitten with animals? Volunteer at a (non-kill) shelter. If you love seniors? There are thousands of seniors who have no one in their lives. Become a special person in their life while improving yours too.Ā  If you are a medical geek like I am? Volunteer at a hospital or offer to help run a group if you feel capable of that. Even if all you do is hand out papers. šŸ™‚ There is no limit to the places that need volunteer helpers and helping others makes you feel good too PLUS it builds your support circle with like-minded people.
  • If getting around or money is a big issue, join an online group. I run one that is targeted towards people with Complex PTSD and I focus on positive questions and healing discussions. You may need to look around a fair bit before you find something that really clicks with you but there are thousands out there. Just start looking and then when you join? PARTICIPATE! Just adding your name to a members list does you no good. I’ve met and keep up with some of my best friends online.
  • Certain agencies will also help you fill needs you have in trade for time given to them. When my children were very young and my budget was smaller than a speck of sand, we were constantly low on food in the house. I offered to help out a local play group in return for my children being there as well but they also saved any unused snacks after each session and gave them to me. Fruit, cookies, juices… in trade for me picking up toys, wiping down tables and helping the children with their needs. If you really look and are wiling to ask? There ARE people out there willing to help IF they know you have a need.

My support “circle” used to be rather anemic but with a lot of effort and a lot of reaching out, it’s grown nicely and that includes those of you who read my blog and have been so supportive. Thank you for all you do to make me feel welcome in this blogging world.

We can all have a much more robust circle and I hope you will strive for that. You are worthy of more good in your life. You deserve more support. Just keep reaching out and also be sure to thank the people who are already part of your “team”.
THANK YOU!

Tree

22 responses to “Building a web.

  1. Nicely written Heather, having pen pals has been a great way to meet others for me as I am not much of a out and about sort of person. I’m enjoying reading your blogs, thanks for sharing. šŸ™‚

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  2. You gave me things to think about. I choose to have only a really small support group. I don’t have the energy to negotiate more than a few relationships because I need relationships of great depth. I also enjoy my time alone and in solitude. It is very life-giving for me.
    I do enjoy reading and writing blogs as well as other online communities.

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    • I totally get that. I love being alone more than any other way of being. It is the only time I truly relax. Blogging and online friends really do matter especially when physically being around others can be an energy drain. Thanks!!!!

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  3. People often say to me that having “online” friend isn’t the same as having “real” friends. I strongly disagree! Both have their merits, but in the last couple of years when I haven’t been able to get out and socialise, my online friends have become my social life and support circle. As you know Heather, I too had “put all my eggs in one basket”, and learned that when I really needed a supportive friend it turned out to be a one-way friendship. The most support actually came from the person standing right by me who hadn’t been given much of a chance in the past (my husband), and the best “online friend” ever! : ) It has been a hard lesson to learn, but I shall certainly be more discerning in future when it comes to friendships.
    Joining craft and art classes a great way of meeting like-minded people I have found. Great blog Heather!x

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    • I must admit that I was guilty of thinking that “online” friends were not like “real” friends until I experienced it. I truly believe (now) that you can actually be closer to online friends or pen pals than the people you physically see in your life. I have found I am more open when I don;t have to face the person directly. Plus, I have met many of my pals/online buddies over the years and they are EXACTLY who I thought they were. We really do KNOW each other.
      I am really glad that you finally looked beside you as well. šŸ™‚ Hugs

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  4. This is a wonderful post and useful for everyone.
    I am the sole support for my wife. Though I am very honored to hold that position. It does become difficult at times.
    Then I looked at myself and realized I do not even have one person. I cannot lean on my wife for support. How did I get so isolated? Must be why I started looking for others online that are going through similar issues as my wife.
    I have lots of kids that take up most of my time. I can’t even find time to be by myself let alone find friends online or otherwise.
    Thank you so much for posting regularly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope that you feel a bit of support here. I really care what you say and your comments are so insightful.
      While I do understand not having the time to really find or enjoy supports for yourself, I am also equally sure you can’t really afford not to. We are like a bank account and you need to make deposits in order to keep taking money out. Eventually you will run dry and that is no good for anyone. Is there any chance of you getting some respite for a few hours a week? Through a government program or something you could set up yourself?
      In the meantime, feel free to contact me any time. I mean it.
      heathershelpers at mail dot com

      Liked by 1 person

    • I completely understand Mr. Marshall..though I hope I can encourage you..my girls are finally far enough along in the healing that they are beginning to be able to support me. It’s still not what I wish or need, but it’s far better than ever before in our marriage!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep hoping for something to go right but every time I turn around some sort of setback keeps happening. I do not foresee having any free time in my life for the next 20 years. I am just feeling sorry for myself and that is never a good thing.

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      • If you want to email me, let me know. I know that feeling of hopelessness.I still get it…but lately the girls are starting to give me reason to hope.

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      • Thanks Sam. I am sure you could be a great support for “Mr. Marshall”. So nice if you to offer.

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      • We all feel sorry for ourselves from time to time. After my huge trigger on Friday night that I discussed in todays blog, I spent the weekend in a complete mess. I was miserable and feeling very sorry for myself and all I must endure. They seems to never be an end. That said, we will have better days and we won;t feel sorry for ourselves forever. I am so happy that you reach out and tell me how you are feeling. I am also very pleased to see that Sam has offered to chat with you. Maybe you could be good supports for each other. I know you both have your plates full.
        Keep sharing and don’t give up. I care what happens to you.

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  5. Great post, Heather. I was reading elsewhere today about scientific studies into addiction. What scientists found is that people are more likely to kick their habit and stay clean if they have connections in their lives… something similar to what you say here

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  6. Good post Heather, but like Mr. Marshall said, for those of us supporting spouses there is almost no one.

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    • I do understand Sam and i am sorry for those of you who don’t. My husband didn’t either but then he realized he just HAD TO get out at least once a week even if only for a few hours. It has helped him incredibly. I hope that you and Mr. Marshall might be supports for each other now that you have “met”?

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  7. The last couple years of my life have been dedicated to this – to getting rid of the toxic people in my life and surrounding myself with high quality individuals that know me and love me unconditionally. I call them my “tribe”. It’s been harder to navigate since therapy stopped but I’m working on not isolating and keeping these relationships in tact.

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    • I am so happy to hear this. I have been doing this (as I said in the blog) for a few years now and it is HARD WORK so pat yourself on the back for that! Really.
      Will you be able to get some more therapy or do you feel that is done for now? I do hope that you are able to get the support that you need.
      Not isolating is my biggest challenge. Is it for you as well?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m still in therapy but it’s a MUCH different experience now. A lot of it is just a sorta maintenance based treatment – keeping me from tipping over. But so much of the authenticity and trust and vulnerability is gone. I hope to work back up to it. And I think I will look back someday and realize how much I learned about myself as a client during this time. Hopefully. Yes, isolating is a tremendous challenge for me. It’s very tied in with my self-image and self-worth. Sometimes it is just unthinkable to interact with others. But I try to push past that discomfort and make an effort anyway. I need that web.

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      • You have a great and willing attitude. In a perfect trauma world? We’d be able to build that web without ever needing to be around anyone. Oh I wish!!!!!! But as you know, we need to push past our barriers and reach out in order to be healthier. It is almost never comfortable for me but in the end I am often glad I have done it. I hope you will find ways to do this yourself. Keep up the great work. I can tell how much effort you put in to getting better.

        Liked by 1 person

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