Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Safe People

I never really understood the meaning of "safe people" until now. And I think that's because I never experienced something so significant before. I can honestly say that my parents getting divorced (and all the drama that's led up to this point) is the most difficult thing, I've ever gone through in my life. It's hard to know how people will react to this news. And while it'd be nice to say everyone will react in a supportive, loving manner, it's not always the truth. Some people may not understand or know how to react. So they do nothing at all. And that can be the most hurtful.

Don't get me wrong. I have lot's of wonderful friends who have been extremely supportive to me during this time. However, I can say that I have encountered people who don't understand what I'm going through and who simply say, "It's for the best. Your parents will be happier. Get over it."

The first time I heard that, I felt like someone slapped me. Get over it? Seriously? I think because I'm an adult, many question why I'm so upset. They think I'm acting childish if I cry about it. Sometimes I even think that way. And then I remember that life as I knew it for 24 years has ended and my emotions are completely justified.

There have been some people I've chosen to confide in who have let me down. These people have shown they're not interested by looking the other way when I talk to them, changing the subject, or even poking fun at me and my family. Many have simply said nothing at all and pulled away from me. They've stopped calling, stopped texting, etc. It's surprising to learn who's supportive and who's not. That's been one of the hardest things I've dealt with during this time. The realization that not everyone will be supportive of you. That even some of your closest friends will pull away because they don't know what to say to you.

I will admit that I'm guilty of trying to fix other people's problems. I try to say the right thing, thinking that I'll be able to comfort that person. The truth is, I should've just listened during those times. That's what people want most. And now that I'm the one in an incredibly vulnerable situation, I can see it's true. All I want is someone to listen. To ask me how I'm doing and if there's anything they can do for me. Most of the time the answer will be no, there's nothing anyone can do for me. But the fact that they asked means more to me than anything.

So my advice to the rest of you going through a similar situation (or any difficult situation) is to find those safe people. People that you can tell anything to and who won't judge you for it. People who will follow up with you to make sure you're doing ok. People who will pick up their phone at any hour just to listen if you're in tears. Trust me...those people are few and far between. And don't be surprise if some of your closest friends let you down during this time. But don't be surprised if the people you least expect to care do.


c said...
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c said...

Studies show that people with strong support networks have increased resiliency and bounce-back over time; so having safe people is crucial for getting through difficult things and coming out on the other side.

Grief is a hard thing, too, though - each of us deals with it differently. Some want to be surrounded by every possible person to talk about it and process it. Others want a select few to be available to listen. Still others just want to be left alone for a time, leaning only on those who are already involved. (I tend to fall in the latter category, myself - I hate explaining and reexplaining a situation and how I'm feeling about it.) So, as a support, it's crucial to try to be aware of what others around you need. As a griever, it's equally crucial to communicate your needs to your support network, so you can get the support that you need.

Anyway, sounds like that's been a good book, and helpful for navigating grief. It's not possible to overestimate the importance of real community, so I'm glad to see books like this gaining ground. :)


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