helping

Getting the Support You Need

As an occasional offering, I invite you to write with your questions or topic suggestions. I will answer all either privately or in this space. It’s my intention that my words will bring hope and new clarity. Here’s one…

a-alone-1530422Dear Lisa,

I could use some perspective on how to reach out for support when that isn’t my usual M.O., without freaking out the people I am reaching out to.

Generally speaking, I am mostly level-headed and together and don’t typically ask for moral support from my friends or family.

They will either freak out that I am “not completely fine and normal” or won’t have any perspective that would actually help me.

How do I overcome my resistance to asking for help because I’m fearful of upsetting the people that I would reach out to or I’m already predicting their reactions as not helpful.

For instance, I wouldn’t want to call my mom and be like “I’m not dealing very well” cause that would burden her for weeks that somehow the possibly most together person in her life isn’t “okay”. I can’t call my BFF cause his reaction would be “that sucks.” Knowing that my husband is managing enough with his current struggles and burdens, I cannot turn to him.

Signed,
Need It, But How Do I Get It?

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Dear Need It,

I relate very well to your resistance and struggle reaching out for help, all too well! It ain’t easy!

Especially if over the years, you’ve owned the title of “The Strong One,” because the Strong One handles it all herself. The Strong One needs no support, and is the one doing the supporting. The Strong One has her shit together, carries on with valor and courage and is Teflon tough and ugh… being the Strong One is exhausting.

I used to joke, and actually still do, that one day, I will start hosting clandestine meetings for the “Secret Society of Strong Ones.”

We will meet monthly to cry.

It’s actually not a bad idea.

Some of the best advice I ever got was from my therapist, Bob, many years ago.  It happened like this. I was in trouble, but I couldn’t fathom turning to anyone for support, not even my husband at the time, Johnny…

Bob: How would it feel to you if Johnny came to you and said “Look, I’m not doing so well. I’m struggling and really need your support right now.”

Me: It would touch me deeply. I would feel honored. And I would do everything I could to support hin in the way he needed. It would feel like a gift, to be able to show up for him during a difficult time.

Bob: Right. So when you hold back asking for help, you deny others the gift of being able to show up for you, you cheat them of the opportunity of being there for you.

BAM. Changed my perspective, instantly, completely.

I’m not going to say it suddenly became easy to reach out for help when I needed it. It’s still incredibly difficult.

But I trust my needs for support as part of this beautiful cosmic dance of intimacy we get to share with others.

We give. We receive. We need. We offer. We hurt. We help. We heal. We heal each other.

And this dance relies on vulnerability for its rhythm.

I’m going to suggest three things to you.

1.Resign your position as Director of Protecting Others from What is Really Going On. It’s an unfulfilling, lonely gig, and you deserve to be supported in the same way you support others. I repeat: You deserve to be supported in the same way you support others.

2. Get clear on what type of support you are needing. Let your intimates know, very specifically, what you are needing. That right now, you need a compassionate ear or a shoulder to cry on or a place to vent or a safe space to be real with what is current without their advice or fixing. Or maybe with their advice or fixing. You decide.

Sounds scary because it is and it requires vulnerability, but like a muscle, when you practice, it gets stronger.

3. Broaden your circle of support. I love the saying “Stop going to the hardware store for milk.” It sounds like you already have determined that the type of support they will offer may not be helpful. There is support all around. Make a list of other people you know truly care about you– even if you’ve never “gone there” with them– this could be a perfect opportunity to deepen those relationships.

If that doesn’t work, check out 7 Cups of Tea. They offer free, confidential and professional counseling online.

We are wired to need one another.

Sure, you could “get by” without reaching out. But by risking your own reputation of being the Strong One, by deciding that you will no longer shoulder these burdens alone, by opening your heart to telling the truth about what is current and real for you now, you become more YOU, more authentic. You will experience deeper intimacy in your relationships, and you will gift others with the opportunity to show up for you in a new way.

You can find the support you need.

It’s there. It rarely comes knocking.

We ourselves must do the knocking.

So start knocking, sweet sister.

I wish you courage and send you love,
Lisa

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The suggestions and opinions offered on this site are not meant to dissuade any reader from seeking the advice and care of his or her own appropriate and licensed health care provider. The reader is strongly encouraged to seek out and establish a meaningful relationship with such a provider who will have the opportunity and responsibility to examine him or her and offer individualized health care suggestions and services.

Grace, generosity and a friend in need

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Zenda being Zenda.
Photo by Loving Photography

I’m doing something different this week. I’m really wanting to help a friend.

Some of you may know her, some may not. Her name is Michelle, a.k.a., Zenda LaBelle.

She’s one of the most generous, loving and accepting people I know. She’s picked up the nickname “Mama Zen” in our Burlesque Experience alumni community because there’s something really maternal about her, something really calming. She’s been a blessing of nurturing tenderness, support and encouragement to so many.

She’s the type of person that would drop everything for a friend, that loves to give and share and create and connect. I’ve been honored to watch her unfold first as my client, then part of my team, and most importantly now, my friend.

Last year, she had what some might call a ‘dark night of the soul.’ Within a matter of a couple months, her job, her car, her home… all gone for unrelated, yet eerily closely timed circumstances, and her life became a blank slate. Her sense of security was gone. She relied on friends to help her with temporary places to stay. She was down. But she did not stay down. She reinvented herself. She job-searched. She found a new job with potential for growth and long-term stability. Her spirits began to lift, and she worked to rebuild her life. Last month, she found a space of her own to call home and settled in to her new apartment. I’ve watched her return to her more natural state of joy and peace. Stronger, wiser, and more in control than ever.

And then last week, she had an unfortunate accident.

Like, she tripped and fell and broke her wrist really bad-unfortunate.

She needs surgery, she has to miss a bunch of work, she’s running out of resources, has new medical bills and rent is due.

I have no doubt that the generosity of this community can help her through this temporary setback.

She is the type of person that rallies around someone in need. Last year at this time, in fact, she organized and produced a burlesque show on my behalf, when I was in my personal crisis. That show saved me. Even moreso than the money, I was reminded by the outpouring of love, that I wasn’t alone.  That’s just one of the generous things I’ve seen her do or been personally blessed by. If I listed them all, this blog could go on all day.

I have this amazing circle of friends, and I’m noticing this super cool trend among them- and actually, “out there” in general…

We take care of each other.

There is a shift in consciousness happening where generosity is a natural response, a path and a way of life. Where the tribe gathers round when one of its members is in need.

I told her this morning that she’s been making deposits in her karmic bank account for a long time. Now it’s time to make a withdrawal. She deserves that. She is supported and held by a loving Universe, and that Universal energy likes to disguise itself as people, you and me, in action. Let’s be Zenda’s karma.

If you’re feeling inclined to send a gift, small or large, please send it to through Paypal to zendalabelle@gmail.com.

Let’s continue moving together in this beautiful circle of generosity and grace and keep the spirit moving, growing, thus creating abundance for our own lives as well. I didn’t make that stuff up. That’s just law. It’s grace.

Zenda wrote these words about grace last month to my daughter as part of her graduation/18th birthday gift…

“The dictionary defines grace as unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification, or a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.

 My gift to you as enter woman-hood is this grace, a knowing that you are worthy just because you were born; a knowing that the divine loves you as you are no matter what; a knowing that Spirit is always with you, loving you every step of the way. Whether you stumble or fall or soar, you are complete and worthy. If you stumble or fall, grace is there to catch you and tell you are worthy of picking yourself back up with divine assistance…

Grace is the women you walk through life with, supporting you and encouraging in your journeys and adventures. “

Zenda, may the grace you give return to you now. When you stumble and fall (sometimes, even literally…) know that grace is there to catch you, too.