How do you build a personal support system? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 11-21-2012, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was asked recently who I have as my support system and realised I am seriously lacking in this area. I am pretty social as well, but feel like I don't have many friends I can depend on. All of my family has passed away, but I do have my own family; dh and 3 kids. I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice or tips to share on building one's own support system for emotional health.

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#2 of 22 Old 11-21-2012, 04:07 AM
 
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I have no contact withmy family because of abuse. I have built my support network online. I blog a lot. I ask for help on my blog and on Facebook. Because people know I don't have any support they show up. It is honestly kind of humiliating but it is the only option available to me.

I find that in general humanity likes to pay forward favors. I can't depend on anyone in particular, but I do get support.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#3 of 22 Old 11-24-2012, 02:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post

I have no contact withmy family because of abuse. I have built my support network online. I blog a lot. I ask for help on my blog and on Facebook. Because people know I don't have any support they show up. It is honestly kind of humiliating but it is the only option available to me.
I find that in general humanity likes to pay forward favors. I can't depend on anyone in particular, but I do get support.

Hi rightkind,

 

so you reveal your information on your blogs like home address? i mean how do you get 'real' help online. i have to think about my support system. i probably don't have too many on the list.


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#4 of 22 Old 11-25-2012, 06:59 AM
 
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I have never posted my address but when I am not functional I ask for help. When my uncle died and I was not able to stay emotionally present with my kids enough to parent I asked on my blog and on Facebook for friends to come stay with me. I wasn't alone for a week.

If I need help with big house chores I outline the project and ask for help. I finished my garage with the help of a buddy and hehelpedbecause I asked on my blog.

I don't talk to people very often. People know I am still alive and in need because of my writing. smile.gif

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#5 of 22 Old 11-25-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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I have never posted my address but when I am not functional I ask for help. When my uncle died and I was not able to stay emotionally present with my kids enough to parent I asked on my blog and on Facebook for friends to come stay with me. I wasn't alone for a week.
If I need help with big house chores I outline the project and ask for help. I finished my garage with the help of a buddy and hehelpedbecause I asked on my blog.
I don't talk to people very often. People know I am still alive and in need because of my writing. smile.gif

I don't know how blogs work. I guess it has your email address on it?


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#6 of 22 Old 11-25-2012, 10:22 AM
 
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OP, I am in a similar situation. Well, I have one sibling. But there isin't 100% trust between his spouse and me. For eg. when my water broke early and I had a 2-day labor, there was no one except dh that I wanted with me during child birth. I am not close to my mil either although we get along fine other wise. My brother and sil offered help many times but I just couldn't have had her with me during a time like that. I had just one friend at the time who I had met at a course and certainly wasn't close enough to.

 

That is my biggest fear. If God forbid something was to happen to dh even if my inlaws or my brother's family would offer help which they would I won't be able to function with them. I have friends that would be good to fill my FB page if I had a page i.e. but other than that they are too far. If one or maybe two of those were here, maybe, I could have asked for help or some moral support.

 

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#7 of 22 Old 11-28-2012, 08:43 PM
 
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i am the same. a question i have is this: where do you get the support from? i don't blog. I like email, but how to find email support? Most ap groups seem inactive.
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#8 of 22 Old 11-28-2012, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm talking about real live people I can rely on and trust to discuss my stresses and who always support me and build me up when I need it. I need more people in my life that I can rely on. I know I need to keep relationships active and be able to listen and have time for others so they can have time for me.. but sometimes I forget that or get too busy with my life, and then when I'm struggling, confused or stressed out, there aren't many folks I can really turn to.

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#9 of 22 Old 11-28-2012, 10:29 PM
 
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I don't have any close friends who are close-by who I would feel very natural leaning on.  I do have a couple of friends who are somewhat more than acquaintances, that I would lean on if I needed to and they are nice and caring people who would probably do whatever they could to help.  But I would feel a little sheepish calling on them.  I also have a couple of very close friends who are far away and its possible one of them would come if it was a desperate situation, but she's usually broke (as am I) and she's got a young daughter in school which would make it difficult.  

 

I don't know if its possible to go out and make it happen, like drum up a support system on purpose.


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#10 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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building up, not drumming up. Totally possible, it just takes time..


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#11 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 06:31 AM
 
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My closest friends are long distance. I call on them for emotional support. But I also have neighbors that I can call on. This is huge for me. I know I can always get a ride if I need one, or a cup of sugar, an egg or milk. Also, if DD needed help there are numerous people that she could call on. Good neighbors are priceless. I always try to lend a hand when someone needs it, and they reciprocate.

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#12 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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It appears like some of us might have answered part of this question:

 

be able to listen and have time for others so they can have time for me

&

I always try to lend a hand when someone needs it, and they reciprocate.

 

It appears that I need to start making time, reaching out and help others if needed. i don't do any of it right now. I feel overwhelmed as it is and if I put any amount of time during a day into socializing (play date or such) it does kind of eat into my time. A parent was suggesting we go swimming after school. That's a huge amt. of time and energy for me. Otoh, I am afraid of looking needy so I hardly suggest anything. With regard to offering help, i feel like no one seems to need anyone's help.

 

I wonder if anyone here looking for support feels like they aren't opening their hearts, so to speak, to people. I feel like I can't get close to people, for whatever reason. possibly a trust issue.


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#13 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 08:48 AM
 
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In February I went to a traditional West African grief ritual. The woman who facilitated has a long history with trying to spread her culture in the West. Her logic (and that of her tribe) is that there is no such thing as a personal problem. All problems are problems of the community. Anxiety and depression are often symptoms that your community is screwing up and they have specific ways of addressing such grievances. It's almost enough to make me move to West Africa--I'll tell you.

 

My blogging has gone through g-blog.net (now defunct), livejournal (on it's last legs), I'm currently at blogspot but hopefully for Christmas my husband will finish my domain. Blogging, for me--it varies from person to person, is just a journal I keep publicly. I write about my emotions, how I am processing, what I am doing in life and what I want to do. I've been doing it for more than ten years.

 

Most of my positive friendships as an adult have come from blogging. I put out calls on the internet for help because I don't have close friends and I don't have family and people who are practically strangers show up to help. I have gotten help with moving, renovating my garage, sometimes yard work, sometimes help with my kids (mothers helpers are far less threatening to me than a baby-sitter).

 

I have a weird isolated life. No one knows I exist unless I talk about myself on the internet a lot. It's weird. But I have learned to talk about myself a lot because otherwise I have absolutely nothing. I'm too suicidal to keep my mouth shut. I need community and I have no other way of getting it. It's a weird system but it is mostly working for me.

 

When other bloggers in my area say they need help I bend over backwards to show up. I believe in paying it forward. I rarely get and give help with the same person. Life doesn't work that way. I need to have a diverse web of people who know way more about me (because I am very personal in my blogging) than I know about them.

 

It's weird. It's all I have.


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#14 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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 It's almost enough to make me move to West Africa--I'll tell you.

 

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#15 of 22 Old 11-29-2012, 10:58 AM
 
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West Africa. And Hawaii, I've heard.

I found I got more help from strangers or bare acquaintances than relatives, friends, or neighbors. Maybe because they feel they can help and then walk away -- no chance of more requests.

The relative thing hurts, because I was there for them, in the past!
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#16 of 22 Old 11-30-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sunanthem View Post

I was asked recently who I have as my support system and realised I am seriously lacking in this area. I am pretty social as well, but feel like I don't have many friends I can depend on. All of my family has passed away, but I do have my own family; dh and 3 kids. I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice or tips to share on building one's own support system for emotional health.

 

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I'm talking about real live people I can rely on and trust to discuss my stresses and who always support me and build me up when I need it. I need more people in my life that I can rely on. I know I need to keep relationships active and be able to listen and have time for others so they can have time for me.. but sometimes I forget that or get too busy with my life, and then when I'm struggling, confused or stressed out, there aren't many folks I can really turn to.

 

I know what you mean, I've been there too.  Some rambling, disjointed thoughts,

 

Are your older kids in school? Are you involved in the PTA or other parent volunteers? Do you go to church?  Are your kids in team sports? Your kids' friends parents especially, is a good place to develop friendships, because you'll have the most important thing in common, your kids.  Your friends will be parents, will be familiar with sleep deprivation and picky eaters and marital/partner issues and lice and baffling teachers.

 

About forgetting and getting too busy, I think this is really normal for moms, especially moms with little ones.  It's not ideal to call on someone you haven't talked to in a while, but it doesn't bar you from doing it.  Flattery and bribery are perfectly acceptable here, I think. smile.gif  Call someone who's been friendly and invite them for coffee. Tell them you're working on an issue and you really value their perspective and want to know what they think. Insist on paying for their coffee. orngbiggrin.gif  Ask if they'd be willing to share how they dealt with a similar issue. People like talking about themselves. It's about balance. Sure, we don't want to be the gal who never connects except when she needs something.  Never the less, people like being valued.

 

And when you're not struggling, confused or stressed out, find ways to do friendly things, don't wait for your friends to initiate it. Invite them to leave the kids with a dad and go to a movie. Tell them you think the kids need some time together, schlep them to the park and get caught up. If you're forgetful and haven't thought about them in a while, oh well, do the best you can.

 

Don't be afraid to be a little vulnerable with those moms you've only known a short time.  You're stuck working together on a project at school, make chit chat and share something small about your private life. "Geeze, I wish my husband wouldn't do blah blah blah, know what I mean?"  Then either they think "I have no idea what she's talking about, I hope she stops talking now," or they think "Huh! My husband's like that too! We have something in common, " and you've made a connection. 

 

Hope I haven't assumed too much about your specific scenario. 

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#17 of 22 Old 12-03-2012, 04:56 PM
 
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A personal support system doesn't need to consist of people who are very close to you emotionally but it requires getting effort to get to know them well in other ways.  I have a several friends with whom I get together often.  We do not talk about too many personal (deep) issues but we have fun together.  We care about and look out for each other.  If I need to drop off my kiddos for an afternoon, I know I can ask.  Same for them.  These are the same people I will call on should there be trouble and I know they will jump in and try to help out.  However, if I need to really talk with someone about something highly personal, then it is with my journal or the few people (1 or 2) I am very close to.  

 

I guess what I am saying is, you don't necessary have to open up yourself emotionally to build a solid (non-emotional) support network.  For me distinguishing the two was key.

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#18 of 22 Old 12-06-2012, 12:32 PM
 
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I'm watching this thread, I facilitate mother's workshops and this topic is such a big part of what we talk about. I've been brewing a blog post about this topic, so I'd love to see what solutions moms have come up with.
 

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#19 of 22 Old 12-06-2012, 11:02 PM
 
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I'm really interested in this topic as well. I'm moving to a new city tomorrow and--to put it bluntly--I'm desperate for friends. I've been living in the middle of nowhere off-grid for 2 years. Seemed like a great idea at first, but oh the isolation has been eating away at my soul! I've always been surrounded by tons of friends who genuinely knew me (the good and the bad and the ugly) and cared for me and vice versus. I didn't realize what a blessing this was. And now my dh and I realize community/a support system is one of the most important things in life.
Anyway, I'd have to agree that for me, there is nothing like real person-to-person interaction; that deep sense of connection and acceptance and belonging that one experiences when physically present with a close friend, or several. smile.gif Im not sure how to build a support system from scratch... with school and grad school it just came naturally bc there are so many opportunities. Its something I've thought about a lot (I've had a lot of time to do it!) And its something which is high on my priority list: find a support system. That's mainly why we are moving. Dh and i are not "city people" but, if that's where the people are (for now), then that's where we'll be.

I like what pp mentioned about some friends who are there for you on a practical level and vice versus. I think those relationships are important. But op, I'm wondering what exactly you mean by "support system"? Because for me, when I think of support I think of women who I can really share my heart with and be raw and real with and they love and support me and encourage the best version of myself to grow. Does that make sense?? And I want to do that for others. I want to have friends who i can help practically (with watching their kids, lending a hand ect) and who i can be there for on deeper levels (cry on my shoulder, vent about your finacial issues ect). I want to have meaningful relationships! [Sorry for the rant, obviously when I said I've been lonely for 2 years I meant it. Lol]

I read somewhere how we in the U.S. and mostly in Europe too have this unhealthy perpetuated cultural travesty, in which we think it is RUDE to share our problems with each other or even socially unacceptable. How many times does this happen: "how are you?' "Fine!" "How are you?" "Good!" We can't all be fine and good all the time! I used to work with the poor and God bless 'em, if you asked "how are you?" Their response: "horrible!" I can't tell you how liberating it was to be around peoole who were honest. They'd tell me how it is and I'd do the same. Now I bring this up bc I love what a pp said about west Africa and I find it quite fitting to tie this topic altogether. For me, I think if we seek out women with similar interests as the foundation (ie our kids, life philosophies ect) and then when we're communicating with them, if we are vulnerable and allow them to see us for who we are beyond the surface then I feel like its gives the other person social ' permission' so-to-speak, to do the same! And that allows for deep connection and relationships to grow, which become support systems... for me atleast anyway. smile.gif

Hope that helps somewhat. I'm really interested in reading more in this thread. Feel like, especially for us moms, we.can be very isolated raising our children and I'd love to see a cultural shift where community-building starts happening and flourishing so that for the moms who want it, support systems and fellowship abound!

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#20 of 22 Old 12-07-2012, 12:02 AM
 
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.... Because for me, when I think of support I think of women who I can really share my heart with and be raw and real with and they love and support me and encourage the best version of myself to grow. Does that make sense?? And I want to do that for others. I want to have friends who i can help practically (with watching their kids, lending a hand ect) and who i can be there for on deeper levels (cry on my shoulder, vent about your financial issues ect). I want to have meaningful relationships! 

 

I agree, meaningful relationships are the best.  BUT building them/finding them can be really difficult beyond college/grad school.  It takes time.  In the meantime, it is much easier to build and maintain the kind of support system that does not necessarily include crying shoulders and venting deeper issues.  Neighbors, parent's of kids from school, etc.  You can have play dates, go to dinner at each other's house, tell jokes, watch movies and hang out -- all without necessarily being close enough for emotionally raw conversations.  I think a lot of us make the mistake not working on building these other (seemingly less meaningful but not really) relationships while pinning for what we would consider deep friendships.  I think we miss out when we do that.  IMHO, we should explore the possibility of making all kinds of friends by expanding our definition of such relationships.  

 

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I've always been surrounded by tons of friends who genuinely knew me (the good and the bad and the ugly) and cared for me and vice versus. I didn't realize what a blessing this was. And now my dh and I realize community/a support system is one of the most important things in life.

 

Ditto.  Friends and community is a huge part of a healthy life.  Human beings are pack animals.  

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I read somewhere how we in the U.S. and mostly in Europe too have this unhealthy perpetuated cultural travesty, in which we think it is RUDE to share our problems with each other or even socially unacceptable. How many times does this happen: "how are you?' "Fine!" "How are you?" "Good!" We can't all be fine and good all the time! I used to work with the poor and God bless 'em, if you asked "how are you?" Their response: "horrible!" I can't tell you how liberating it was to be around peoole who were honest. They'd tell me how it is and I'd do the same. 

 

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I'm really interested in this topic as well. I'm moving to a new city tomorrow and--to put it bluntly--I'm desperate for friends... ... ... 
....  Feel like, especially for us moms, we.can be very isolated raising our children and I'd love to see a cultural shift where community-building starts happening and flourishing so that for the moms who want it, support systems and fellowship abound!

 

I think this can be accomplished more easily if we lower our emotional support expectations and make it all about supporting each other with childcare, house cleaning, food cooking etc.  The practical level support should be much simpler to create because it can include just about anyone who is willing to give and receive in kind, kwim?  The relief that you are not carrying your burden alone can result in many positive emotional benefits that in turn lead to a less stressful and lonely life, no?  

 

I, too, am enjoying this thread,  Everyone please keep on sharing :)

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#21 of 22 Old 12-07-2012, 09:33 AM
 
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I found that those I help and support want it to be a one way street of me giving to them. There are a couple of friends who gave to me. One, I have not given much to, but gave to me when I needed it. When it's family that don't give, it hurts a lot.

I try not to worry in advance, and just look around for help when I truly need it.
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#22 of 22 Old 12-08-2012, 02:10 PM
 
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I have two primary communities that I exist in, that are both huge sources of personal support. I am thankful for both of them every day.

 

One is a local mama group, that has an online base on meetup.com. This particular group met one another from being a part of a much larger mama group in our city, but over the years a small core of us have become rather close. This group does meals for mamas whenever someone has a baby or a family crisis, helps one another out with childcare when someone needs it, we do soup swaps, knitting nights, etc. We are there for one another much like family, and have stepped up for one another in really big ways in times of illness, divorce and financial hardship.

 

The other is a community that I volunteer/help run a nonprofit org with, for the most part they are childless, but share a strong feminist/activist mentality, and there is a very strong bond of sisterhood there. We work really hard together, without pay, and have created something we are incredibly proud of. These are very "hip" women who I rely on to be my daughter's mentors, kind of like the cool aunts. They are personally invested in me and invested in my daughter, and have cried tears of joy with me when they have witnessed my daughter's accomplishments.

 

So, I guess it is being there for folks and allowing them to be there for you, spending the time even when times are tough, and working on something meaningful with a group of people. I do have sisters who provide a lot of love and support, but unfortunately they are in other cities.
 

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