Setting Up and Using a Support System

This week I received a cd in the mail. I knew it was coming and I was looking forward to it. I knew the artist and I knew what the basic theme of his album would be, but I was really looking forward to hearing what he had put together.  He had been through a very difficult situation and turned to his music to gain release.  You may now be asking, “what does this have to do with anything?”

While listening, and more so after, I found myself reflecting on his words and how they tied to his situation as well as how they fit my life. It gave me great insight into what he has been going through, but it made me realize I have no tangible enemies.  In fact, my only enemies right now are circumstance and my car.  Those I can deal with.

The deeper I thought about this though I realized I also don’t utilize the support system available to me when I do face off against my enemies or take on my day-to-day stuff.  I realized that there are times I’ve felt alone simply because I didn’t make the effort to use whatever support system may have been available to me.  With this in mind I’ve decided to put together a three-point plan to improve this situation.

This isn’t going to be quick.  This isn’t going to be easy.  But this is necessary.  Everyone needs to have someone or a group of someones they can turn to in any situation.  We need to have people to share our lives with—not just the triumphs and happy moments, but also the valleys and sorrows.  We were programmed to be in community with one another, so we shouldn’t shy away from that.

It’s easy to share with your friends and family when things are going well for you, but I know firsthand it is tough to share when things aren’t coming up roses.  Many of us feel that it’s important to appear like we have it all together, so that nobody can see our weakness or our humanness.  But a key part of what makes up our humanness is that we don’t just live in the high places.  We also dwell in the darkness.

We (really I mean I, but it feels better to say we) need to willingly let others into our lives.  It may seem dangerous.  It may seem pointless.  Nonetheless, we need to have others that have our backs and are willing to sit by our side or across a table when we need them.  I’ve always been willing to offer help and be a listening ear, but it’s been a struggle for me to request that of someone else.

So here’s what I’ve come up with—it’s not all-inclusive, and as of now I don’t even know if it’s effective:

1.     Take Inventory of the Friends/Family I Have

We all have people in our lives, but we don’t necessarily know where we stand with them.  This step will help to figure out who I think I can count on in crisis and who I may need to get closer with.  There will almost always be people who are better suited for only sharing in the positives in life, but with a closer look I may be able to find that those relationships could get deeper if I tried harder.

2.     Put In the Time to Cultivate Relationships

It’s easy to say, “I just don’t have time” or, “It’s just so hard to put in that effort,” but that’s not good enough anymore.  I honestly don’t know where I will find extra time to put this step into action, but it is extremely important so I will make cuts to other activities if necessary.  Being husband and being dad will remain my top priorities, but I can be even better in those roles if I take the time to act on this step.  This step is all about working toward deeper and more meaningful relationships with the people around me.

3.     Seek Out New Relationships

I feel like the old adage, “You can’t have too much of a good thing,” fits well in this situation.  It is always good to seek out new relationships—even if I find that I have a support system at the ready, and even if I create deeper and more meaningful relationships all over the place.  As times change we should expect to see people change, circumstances change, and life change.  So, by finding and nurturing new relationships while strengthening old relationships we can be ready for the changes that we may face.

***

Parents definitely need to have support around them.  On top of the normal day-to-day life events for themselves they are also dealing with the day-to-day life events of their child(ren), so support is definitely necessary.  It’s important to have someone to turn to, and even better to have multiple someones.

I will be working on this for as long as it takes.  I know I need to make changes, so these will be my first steps.  As things progress I will likely post some updates.  If anyone else decides to go through this process, please feel free to comment here or email me at DADandFATHER@yahoo.com.  I’d love to hear your stories and share in this journey.

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