What does It Take?

I’m convinced there’s some unknowable and Mysterious Act that if I only discover and do, I’ll get the support I need. Telling people I’m not alright hasn’t worked. Appreciating the support I do get so as to encourage more fails. The other day at the end of a rough yoga class, I spent five minutes sitting in a fetal position. Even that didn’t elicit a single expression of concern.

I’m beginning to feel more than desperate for some ongoing support. In my soul, I feel a scream building that might explode at any moment. I want to grab one of the people who purportedly cares about me and shake them as I ask, “What do I need to do to get you to notice the emotional hell I routinely occupy and get off your ass and do something?”

What ever happened to unselfish compassion? Loving someone enough to do what they need even if it’s inconvenient and hard? Acting without someone giving you explicit, help-by-the-numbers directions? And I’m not talking about a one-shot deal here. I’m talking about consistently over a period of time being there for someone *because someone has to*.

Pragmatically, the support also needs to come from more than one source. I do have a couple of people who make their supportive presence known, but each has other responsibilities that necessarily come first. They do what they can. They cannot do it all. That’s why people have a collection of friends, not just one.

As a society, I have noticed the tendency to approach life with a triage mentality. Unfortunately, the measure of what is and is not emergent solely seems to rest upon how much smoke is visible. What looks worst at an unthinking glance gets the attention. I, who communicate my struggle with simple, calm words doesn’t look like a critical case. Stooping to theatrics in order to be seen as worthy of aid strikes me as wrong. And, in fact, it would lend credence to and affirmation of behaving badly in order to get attention.

I don’t want attention. I want support. They are not the same thing. If they were, then I’d be thrilled when people pour on the praise for my mundane “achievements.” Since I tend to cringe, brush off the compliment and change the subject, I can pretty much assure you that attention and support are not synonymous.

Instead, when I seek support, I get things like:

“Jen, I can’t even imagine dealing with what you deal with, so I don’t know what to say to you.”

How about this: “I can tell you are truly upset and hurting. What can I do to support you while you deal with it?” Now was that so hard?

“Jen, you are so inspiring. How you deal with what you deal with amazes me.”

Well, great. The amazement has become the center of the conversation, making it about the other person and pushing my pain into some dark corner. So helpful.

“Jen, I can’t watch you be so negative. It’s too painful to me.”

Now the other person’s pain has trumped mine because watching me go through hard stuff is harder than going through the hard stuff. How is that even possible?

“Jen, I know it will be alright.”

Great. Meanwhile, I’m in pain, but it has been dismissed as unimportant because it won’t last forever.

By word or by deed, many who say they care about me dismiss, minimize and otherwise make irrelevant the overarching reality I occupy *right now*: I’m fighting my way through some very difficult, painful things without sufficient, reliable support. How can that be acceptable to anyone who truly feels affection for me? I no longer doubt that I deserve and am worthy of support. I now question the affection others express. Is caring real if it never translates from

I’m convinced there’s some unknowable and Mysterious Act that if I only discover and do, I’ll get the support I need. Telling people I’m not alright hasn’t worked. Appreciating the support I do get so as to encourage more fails. The other day at the end of a rough yoga class, I spent five minutes sitting in a fetal position. Even that didn’t elicit a single expression of concern.

I’m beginning to feel more than desperate for some ongoing support. In my soul, I feel a scream building that might explode at any moment. I want to grab one of the people who purportedly cares about me and shake them as I ask, “What do I need to do to get you to notice the emotional hell I routinely occupy and get off your ass and do something?”

What ever happened to unselfish compassion? Loving someone enough to do what they need even if it’s inconvenient and hard? Acting without someone giving you explicit, help-by-the-numbers directions? And I’m not talking about a one-shot deal here. I’m talking about consistently over a period of time being there for someone *because someone has to*.

Pragmatically, the support also needs to come from more than one source. I do have a couple of people who make their supportive presence known, but each has other responsibilities that necessarily come first. They do what they can. They cannot do it all. That’s why people have a collection of friends, not just one.

As a society, I have noticed the tendency to approach life with a triage mentality. Unfortunately, the measure of what is and is not emergent solely seems to rest upon how much smoke is visible. What looks worst at an unthinking glance gets the attention. I, who communicate my struggle with simple, calm words doesn’t look like a critical case. Stooping to theatrics in order to be seen as worthy of aid strikes me as wrong. And, in fact, it would lend credence to and affirmation of behaving badly in order to get attention.

I don’t want attention. I want support. They are not the same thing. If they were, then I’d be thrilled when people pour on the praise for my mundane “achievements.” Since I tend to cringe, brush off the compliment and change the subject, I can pretty much assure you that attention and support are not synonymous.

Instead, when I seek support, I get things like:

“Jen, I can’t even imagine dealing with what you deal with, so I don’t know what to say to you.”

How about this: “I can tell you are truly upset and hurting. What can I do to support you while you deal with it?” Now was that so hard?

“Jen, you are so inspiring. How you deal with what you deal with amazes me.”

Well, great. The amazement has become the center of the conversation, making it about the other person and pushing my pain into some dark corner. So helpful.

“Jen, I can’t watch you be so negative. It’s too painful to me.”

Now the other person’s pain has trumped mine because watching me go through hard stuff is harder than going through the hard stuff. How is that even possible?

“Jen, I know it will be alright.”

Great. Meanwhile, I’m in pain, but it has been dismissed as unimportant because it won’t last forever.

By word or by deed, many who say they care about me dismiss, minimize and otherwise make irrelevant the overarching reality I occupy *right now*: I’m fighting my way through some very difficult, painful things without sufficient, reliable support. How can that be acceptable to anyone who truly feels affection for me? I no longer doubt that I deserve and am worthy of support. I now question the affection others express. Is caring real if it never translates from

I’m convinced there’s some unknowable and Mysterious Act that if I only discover and do, I’ll get the support I need. Telling people I’m not alright hasn’t worked. Appreciating the support I do get so as to encourage more fails. The other day at the end of a rough yoga class, I spent five minutes sitting in a fetal position. Even that didn’t elicit a single expression of concern.

I’m beginning to feel more than desperate for some ongoing support. In my soul, I feel a scream building that might explode at any moment. I want to grab one of the people who purportedly cares about me and shake them as I ask, “What do I need to do to get you to notice the emotional hell I routinely occupy and get off your ass and do something?”

What ever happened to unselfish compassion? Loving someone enough to do what they need even if it’s inconvenient and hard? Acting without someone giving you explicit, help-by-the-numbers directions? And I’m not talking about a one-shot deal here. I’m talking about consistently over a period of time being there for someone *because someone has to*.

Pragmatically, the support also needs to come from more than one source. I do have a couple of people who make their supportive presence known, but each has other responsibilities that necessarily come first. They do what they can. They cannot do it all. That’s why people have a collection of friends, not just one.

As a society, I have noticed the tendency to approach life with a triage mentality. Unfortunately, the measure of what is and is not emergent solely seems to rest upon how much smoke is visible. What looks worst at an unthinking glance gets the attention. I, who communicate my struggle with simple, calm words doesn’t look like a critical case. Stooping to theatrics in order to be seen as worthy of aid strikes me as wrong. And, in fact, it would lend credence to and affirmation of behaving badly in order to get attention.

I don’t want attention. I want support. They are not the same thing. If they were, then I’d be thrilled when people pour on the praise for my mundane “achievements.” Since I tend to cringe, brush off the compliment and change the subject, I can pretty much assure you that attention and support are not synonymous.

Instead, when I seek support, I get things like:

“Jen, I can’t even imagine dealing with what you deal with, so I don’t know what to say to you.”

How about this: “I can tell you are truly upset and hurting. What can I do to support you while you deal with it?” Now was that so hard?

“Jen, you are so inspiring. How you deal with what you deal with amazes me.”

Well, great. The amazement has become the center of the conversation, making it about the other person and pushing my pain into some dark corner. So helpful.

“Jen, I can’t watch you be so negative. It’s too painful to me.”

Now the other person’s pain has trumped mine because watching me go through hard stuff is harder than going through the hard stuff. How is that even possible?

“Jen, I know it will be alright.”

Great. Meanwhile, I’m in pain, but it has been dismissed as unimportant because it won’t last forever.

By word or by deed, many who say they care about me dismiss, minimize and otherwise make irrelevant the overarching reality I occupy *right now*: I’m fighting my way through some very difficult, painful things without sufficient, reliable support. How can that be acceptable to anyone who truly feels affection for me? I no longer doubt that I deserve and am worthy of support. I now question the affection others express. Is caring real if it never translates from feeling into action?