Where are my people?

Are support people friends? Are friends support people? During my chronic illness, when I needed support people so desperately, I wondered where mine were, or more accurately, who they were.

First of all, let me say what I think a support person is. It is a person to whom you can go to gain reinforcement and strength. There can be general support people that you go to for any type of support or specific ones that you go to for a particular type of support. For example, frustration with kids or work. Are these people friends? Yes, a support person is a special class of friend, just like work friends, neighbor friends, and family friends. They are not better or worse friends, but friends with an additional facet. This means that a support person can be a work, neighbor, or family friend. So, what about my support people?

As I thought through many wonderful friends that I have, I had to eliminate most of them as support people for one reason or another. Maybe we just didn’t have a history that would make them filling this role appropriate. Maybe I didn’t think they would understand. Maybe this person was not sympathetic enough. As it turned out, I had very few people I could call support people, and from this list, even fewer I felt comfortable calling on. In the end, even if I were a little nervous calling on them, I did it anyway and am so glad I did. I got the strength and hope I really needed.

So, why aren’t more of my friends support people? I think it is a mutual thing. I have not built them to be support people and they haven’t either. What I mean is that what we share at friends does not get to the point of sharing things that we need to be strengthened in. So, we share similar interests, celebrate holidays, go out to eat, or play games, but we do not share more intimate details and feelings. The things that probably matter most. I guess you could call it superficial type friendships. Is this wrong? Not at all, especially if it is what both sides want. If one side wants more than the other, then I think it defaults to the lesser. Of course we cannot force people into these roles. I just think it happens, but I do believe we can encourage these roles. For example if a have a friend that is a good listener, he might be  a support person for me if I am willing to share more intimate details with him. This does not mean he will share, but by virtue of me sharing, I think it is more natural for the other to share more too and the relationship starts to take on a new dimension.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am the most to blame for not having more support people because I obviously do not share more intimate details about myself. And, as I do, some will reciprocate and some will not. Even if the ones that reciprocate are few, it will be an increase to the number of support people I have now. One final note, I think we all need support people in our lives. We all have those moments where we need people in a slightly more serious way. How much better will it be for us if we build those support people now, so when we need them, they will be there.

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