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alittlelost September 30th, 2013 07:51 PM

What do you look for with support?

My uncle came to visit recently. I would say in my family, he is the most supportive, though I bet much of my family would beg to differ. You see, my Uncle is a "I'll give you right hand even if it means I can't feed myself -- but only if you are trying to feed yourself the right foods." In other words, if he thinks you are doing the right thing, he supports you by helping you do it. If he doesn't think you are doing the right thing, he supports you by telling you so.

Maybe my admiration of him colors how I see support. Some of my most supportive friends tell me things I don't want to, but need to, hear. However, I am learning that not all people see that as support. To some, support is agreement. How do you decide, then, who wants support as in help to achieve something that will be good for them, versus wanting support as in agreement?

Case in point, my cousin. He's addicted to drugs. To the point we can't even let him know where we live because he has robbed multiple family members while they were away and pawned the stolen items for drug money. He messaged me recently asking for help. He wanted a place to stay or money. He told me (from his iphone, which must have been magically charged) that he was living on skid row and needed help. I have to tell him to get back into rehab, that we can't enable him, and that I'm scared him. That I am afraid of getting that call that he's turned up dead somewhere. Maybe that makes me a b... or cold hearted... but to me, that was the right way to support him. I'm sure he didn't agree. I'm sure he's mad at me. I'm sure he thinks I'm heartless. But I told him what I felt was right.

Here's one where I always get stuck. So you have a mama who is having a hard time breastfeeding and REALLY wants to breastfeed but is thinking of quitting. I probably mess up every time I try to show those mamas support. Because I see everyone being like "If that's what you need to do, do it!" and while I agree with that sentiment, I guess I just think . . . but maybe what she really needs is support to KEEP breastfeeding? (This coming from someone who didn't even PLAN to breastfeed this time.) So I think, ya know, maybe I should give them advice on how they can keep breastfeeding *if they want to*. But then I feel like, is that going to be perceived as not being supportive? I mean, it guess it depends on who you are talking to, right?

So what are your thoughts on Support? What is support to you and how do you support others? Do you ever struggle with offering the support someone needs and telling them what they want to hear? How do you know when to just not saying anything at all?

shen7 September 30th, 2013 09:02 PM

Re: Support
I would tell the breastfeeding mom, basically, I hear you. It is tough. I would maybe make sure she knows about LLL and kellymom and whatever, but not be pushy about it, mainly just be a sounding board. Or I guess I act sort of like a therapist. "How did that make you feel?" Lol. I used to be really about solving people's problems and I got some grief for that, people do mostly want sympathy and if they want problem solving they generally ask for it specifically, so now I try to be more of a sounding board and half *** therapist for friends IRL.

You absolutely have to not enable the cousin. I am so remorseless about being harsh with stuff like that. I am just not the person to go to if you want to come to with your sob story. I don't know. Someone like that I would think of as lost already, unless by some miracle they save themself, but really, not my problem. I don't dehumanize them, I will talk to them about where they are at, but any material assistance whatsoever is a no. I had a good friend and roommate once who got into poker and cocaine and I would let her eat my groceries but I never gave her even a $5 bill. Even if she said she was just getting some groceries or something. I would buy the groceries. She did clean up eventually. It is hard to watch someone destroy their life but also amazing that sometimes those people can turn it around. You can't help them keep their shady game going though. You have to just erase yourself from their calculations of how they will keep the game going.

alittlelost October 2nd, 2013 06:21 AM

You always have the best insights Shen. This is something I need to figure out. I've actually had people cuss me out and call me names saying that I am never supportive of anyone. Thankfully most people don't feel that way, but this person clearly did, and I can only imagine its because they didn't like the support I offered. I have aspergers and don't read situations as great as I can and I know that is a factor to an extent. I'm pretty level headed and calm most of the time and that seems to incite people more when they just want to shut me up. And I'm honest and not willing to lie. But I have to find a way to do that without inciting people, which is never my intention. I guess you can say that I bring the worst out in some people :(

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shen7 October 2nd, 2013 11:14 AM

Re: Support
Awww, hugs!! It sounds like whoever you were dealing with had their own issues going on. Some people just want to externalize their bad feelings by pushing them onto others, creating drama, etc. One of the major cognitive errors is Emotional Reasoning, which often goes something like, "I'm talking to Lost, and now I'm mad [maybe because she is making me realize that I'm causing my own problems], therefore I am mad at Lost, she must be doing something really terrible to me!" Basically completely backwards logic. But often the ego will bend over backwards to find someone else to blame or play the victim. This is something that difficult people do.

Have you ever seen a book called The Feeling Good Handbook? It is a big book but I learned a lot of these concepts from it. It has whole sections on the most common cognitive errors (black-and-white thinking, labelling, etc) and also a whole chapter on dealing with difficult people. It is really designed to be a self help book for people with anxiety/depression but as an aspie you might find it really helpful since it can help you identify the emotionally driven illogical behavior that many people have, especially at their worst.

alittlelost October 2nd, 2013 12:34 PM

Re: Support
Yes, I think I have the hardest time with people who do the whole vilifying thing/playing the victim to make the other person look bad. But I can't change them. I can only change myself. And I need to because I seem to attract bully-types. I think it's a social thing, too, like "It's cool to hate you right now, so I'm going to do it, too." I see it where once they are done with me, they go on to do it to someone else, and perhaps they have done it to people before me too and I didn't notice. A lot of my problems come I think from being so optimistic and thinking anything can be resolved if you talk it out. I try to stick up for people who are afraid to speak up, thinking they have no reason to be afraid . . . then finding out that, hey, maybe they actually did have a reason for feeling like they couldn't bring something up. So I try to balance between doing what I think is right and not pissing people off (again, because I can't change other people, I can only change myself). But I am the type who takes time out of my day to offer my support to others. Even if someone has NEVER taken 2 seconds to help me, I'll spend 2 hours helping them if I think it will help. So to be told I'm not supportive really makes me stop and think--wow, how am *I* coming across. Sure, people can manipulate things, but I guess what I'm saying is I want to work on how I can be honest and supportive in such a way that makes it HARD to manipulate my words or intentions. Does that make sense?

The Feeling Good handbook. That sounds like something I could really use! I would love to understand people better so that I can still be myself, but a better version of myself that can deal better with difficult people. Thanks for the rec and for the feedback and advice. <3

alittlelost October 2nd, 2013 12:43 PM

Re: Support
Also, I do get emotional, too, sometimes, but what happens is I see that I'm getting worked up, and I calm myself down and then try to reapproach with reasoning and fairness. I guess the problem is at that point other people might not be in the mood to calm down or be fair themselves. That's when the really frustrating things happen toward me: name calling (which I never participate in), cursing (which is not my style), hypocrisy, lying, manipulation, etc. Again, I can't change them. I can only change myself. By time it gets to that point I just cut those people from my life and move on, because it's not worth my energy, but I think the ideal for me would be to grow to avoid those situations without feeling like I can't speak up about things or feelings like my kindnesses will be thrown in my face or that any good I have ever done will be ignored. It's hard when you spend so much time trying to help others and someone loses their cool and undermines all the good you have done. My mom (who has bi-polar) did this a lot growing up. You know, if you don't clean your room one day, then: you NEVER clean your room. If you don't back up something she says: You're ALWAYS siding against me. Things like that. So, I grew up with it and STILL don't know how to deal with it when people get like that. By contrast, I'm the opposite--I'm always the first to apologize and to admit *my* part in a disagreement. I feel that being that way often backfires on me, though. I always forgive the other person, even if they never apologize, but like I said, I really need a better solution.

shen7 October 2nd, 2013 01:13 PM

Re: Support
Because your mother was like that, you yourself may actually be seeking out these situations/people on some level, to keep playing your same role. Total armchair psychology here but it is super common for people to keep gravitating towards old familiar things, even if they make them miserable. It is basically just a pattern you are trapped in. What I think you can do to work on it, is analyze it (like you are doing now!!) To the point where you can SEE it happening and WATCH yourself doing it. At first you will only realize after the fact what has happened. Then you will start to notice in the middle of the situation "it's happening again." Then slowly you learn to actually avoid those situations in the first place. You may find those "reasons" you have for "needing to get involved" are not what they seem to be, that it is more like they trigger the pattern for you and give you the compulsion to leap into your old role. But in reality, you are doing the best thing for everybody by not feeding into the drama anymore and just not getting sucked in.

I have had different issues/patterns myself but for a long time I was taking on more and more work and expectations (which I thought was external but turned out to be just my own internal expectations) and being a perfectionist and just making myself super anxious and stressed out. It is why I left my PhD program and also my career. I need a better relationship with work or maybe a different type of work entirely. It has been a hard road but I think the process of breaking these patterns is what really can make us truly free as human beings. And I know it makes me a better parent because I try really hard to not create unhealthy patterns with my kids.

alittlelost October 2nd, 2013 01:40 PM

Re: Support
That's really great insight, and I think you are right. It always bothered me that my mom was unfair (not just to me, but to other people in her life) and that she lied and manipulated so often. Maybe that was what creates that need in me to want to protect other people or to bring to light people who act that way; as you said, I need to stay out of it. I am getting better at spotting it, though more recently I was kind of blindsided. It was like -- wow, I didn't see that coming . . . but yet I wasn't surprised by who it came from? Of course, it's harder with group situation because I can get along with most of a group but I seem to bring out the worst in those vocal few that are so much like my mother, that that ends up drowning out everything else.. I'd hate to avoid a social group entirely overly a few vocal few, but maybe I just need to be more careful which circles I run with. For example, I don't seem to encounter many problems with AP circles, and like I said the other day I think it has to do with whatever personality trait that most AP families have. I always feel at peace around them.

shen7 October 2nd, 2013 01:48 PM

Re: Support
Yeah, if you come up with a way to be around the trigger type of people or situations WITHOUT getting sucked into the same old pattern... Let me know :P I solved my problems by leaving the situations entirely. So if I were you I would definitely be minimizing my contact with those vocal few people, even if it meant avoiding those groups, and spending more time with AP groups or whatever instead.

alittlelost October 2nd, 2013 01:51 PM

Re: Support
Yeah, it's just rough because I've definitely made what I consider really close, life-long friendships with some people in situations like that in the past, and I think even recently, but maybe it's a matter of getting out sooner, after those relationships are established, instead of trying to keep it there while surrounded by that kind of stuff.

NinjaCakes October 4th, 2013 05:30 AM

Re: Support
Support? What is that??? Heh.

I am pretty much surrounded by people who tell me I'm doing it wrong, I should do it this way, I'll figure out soon enough I don't want to do it the way I am/plan to, ect.

I go to a breastfeeding support group weekly when I can. I go to therapy every other week, so my therapist Missy. I have one friend and one cousin who truly do care and support me, but neither of them live here, both have kids, and none of us are "phone people." We text when we have time but that isn't often. If not for the breastfeeding group and Missy I think I'd be losing it :)

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