You have your parents, your siblings, cousins, friends, coworkers, and most especially your partner. But when the going gets tough, who do you call on when you need support? And are they able to provide you with the support you need?
I consider myself to be a good friend. I'm a great listener and while I tend to put my two cents in more often than not, if you need someone to be there for you, I'm always a phone call away. My family knows it and my friends know it. And so I get called on for random pieces of advice or when someone needs to vent it out. Does this sound familiar? Are you the same way?
But who do you go to when you need someone to support you? Have you ever called on the people who you provide support to only to find they can't seem to do the same for you? That when you call someone to listen to you and be empathetic all you get is negative, snarky comments that make you feel worse? Or you find them completely unavailable - not returning your phone call or they talk to you but are completely distracted the entire time?
When this happens, you may find yourself questioning your friendship. Why are you friends with someone who only wants to take the support you give them, not give you support when you need it? And after a situation in which a close friend who I listened and supported for years, but when I was falling apart, instead of empathy all I got were mean comments that made me feel terrible. I had to take a look at my support group and I realized something that can help you if you find yourself in a similar situation:
No one can be the person you wish for them to be.
I can wish for my friend to be more empathetic, to listen, and support me as I do for her when she's feeling down. But guess what? It's not going to happen. That doesn't mean I should leave our friendship. It doesn't mean I should ignore her and try to make her feel as crappy as she made me feel and it doesn't mean she doesn't care for me as much as I care for her. No. It just means that I need to accept that my friend can't give me the same support I give her because she's not made that way. She's empathetic and caring in her own way. She values and cherishes our friendship as much as I do, but the way she processes things is completely different from me. Because she's not me. She never has been and never will be and that is something I had to learn and become okay with.
So what does this mean?
It means I have to accept that this is who she is and how she responded is what's best for her and while it may not be the best for me, that is who she is. It also means I need to learn how to express myself better and ask for what I need, which (for me) was incredibly difficult to do. I learned to preface our conversations by saying "I just need someone to listen to me, not to comment, but to just let me let it all out." And surprisingly, it worked very well. I was able to vent and unleash my emotions and she sat there in silence. I could tell she wanted to say something but she really pulled through and didn't say a word after I let it all out.
I also learned to listen to myself and see what I really needed. When my friend wasn't able to provide the support I needed; I took a closer look to see what was I looking for? What was I hoping to accomplish by going to her and venting? What need within me wasn't being filled? And did I really want her to tell me what to do? To solve my problem? Or did I just need someone to listen to me?
Turns out, I just needed someone to listen to me. To allow me to feel heard. And by allowing me to put my emotions out there, I walked away feeling like I got exactly what I needed to feel.
What do you do when you need support? Are you able to get the support you need? And if you aren't, what do you need to do to differently so you can feel supported? Share with us below.