– Allen Saunders
Life has been more stressful than usual lately. I’ve got too many proverbial irons in the fire – some by choice and others not – but I’m doing my best to cope. My mind races with thoughts of who, what, when, where, why, and how the heck am I going to get it all done?
A popular modification of the serenity prayer comes to mind: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know where I should hide the bodies.
Yes, I like that idea! Bury the bodies. That will take care of some of my problems. . . until I land in jail for murder. I would not make a good prisoner. Can you imagine how difficult I would be if I couldn’t have my daily dose of books and chocolate? PMS would pale in comparison.
We learned a long time ago that we don’t always get our way. But even as adults, it’s not easy to accept.
Being a member of the sandwich generation, I often find that my life is not my own. My youngest is a senior in high school, and definitely not the social butterfly his sister was four years ago. He is passionate about soccer, so we’re on the go to his varsity games several times a week. That will be over before any of us are ready, so I’m not really complaining. Mixed in for good measure, on both sides of the family we have aging and health-challenged parents who demand more of our time. It’s a rare day that we have to ourselves, and hubby and I usually have different ideas about how we want to spend that time, which results in more conflict. Throw in work upheavals, and I recently had the perfect recipe for feeling sorry for myself.
Then a friend called under the pretense of inviting us to a backyard celebration for her son, who had just graduated from boot camp and would be leaving in three short days. I asked how she was doing and she hesitated a second too long. We talked for about fifteen minutes and she insisted she was fine so we said goodbye. But my friend needed me – I could feel it in my gut. I hopped in my van and drove to her house, only to find her sitting in the dark on her patio, wrapped in an old chenille robe, bawling her eyes out. She didn’t have to explain the pride and fear warring in her heart; I just knew. I wrapped her in my arms and cried with her. When she was spent, she simply said “I knew I could call you.”
Those were powerful words, a boon to my feeling-sorry-for-myself soul. I was needed.
We all need a support system. Sometimes it’s just someone to vent to, someone who will listen and empathize without judging. Sometimes, we need someone to gently steer us in the direction we need to go. Other times, we need a swift kick to reboot our mindset. Surrounding ourselves with people who can fill these roles is important.
Writers, by necessity, have solitary spans of time. We talk to ourselves, answer ourselves, even argue with ourselves. But we still need the support of our family and friends to cover for us when we are deep into writing on a deadline. We need the support of other writers to help us work through stuck plotlines or stubborn characters who just refuse to cooperate. We rely on other writers to understand how we think, why we struggle, and to help us navigate the path to publication. And then we need the support of readers once we are published.
But in the end, support – like life – is a two-way street. You have to give to receive.
How have you been supportive of someone in your life? How has someone helped you? Please share.