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April 12, 2023
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April 23, 2023

Friday Five: Five Things I’ve Learned About Support in my Time of Need

The past 6 months have been dominated by my illness. As a mom of 2 toddlers, this has been tough. Yes, the actual illness and managing doctor's appointments has been challenging, but something was even more challenging for me – accepting help from my family and friends. My experience of accepting support has led to me reflecting on support that I have given in the past as well. These are 5 things that I’ve learned about support in my time of need.

Showing up is the most important

I love to consider myself to be a good, kind person. When I hear someone is going through a tough time, I instantly think about how I can help them. Often this is where my goodness stops. There are so many times when I thought about providing support to someone, but didn’t. I know now that showing up is the most important part of providing support. It may sound simple, but being the person who has received support has made me realize that all of my good will or good thoughts in the past really doesn’t mean much. This may seem super basic and simple, but at the end of the day, it is the sole thing that matters. Many people have the thought to do good and help, but only the ones that show up (physically, mentally, emotionally) are the ones providing support.

Support doesn't have to look one way

There is no right way to support. I think one of the things that got in my way in the past was the idea that I had to figure out the “right” way to support someone. I needed to make sure I was being self-sacrificing and giving. Possibly being too effusive with my love and support. Support doesn’t have to be overly emotional, touchy or any specific way. My husband taught me that just showing up, seeing what needs to be done, and doing it, is enough. So if you have this idea in your head of how you’re supposed to support, and it doesn’t feel like you, think—what does? Once you figure that out, do it!

Provide Solutions when Possible

Good intentions lead us to ask questions about how we can help someone. What we are often doing, though, is adding to that individual's mental load of what needs to be done, how it must be done, who has to know what, etc. Whenever possible, offer a solution up front. That may be saying things like, “I know that you’re going through a rough time, I have a dinner I’d love to drop off.” It could also potentially be, “I know when I was in a similar situation, doing the dishes felt like a mountain, can I come over to do the dishes for you?” They may say no, but by starting with an idea, you’re making it easier for them to help organize their thoughts and give you an alternative.

Good Intentions Do Not Override Intent

There are times, where someone maybe offered to help me, but I knew it would have been more of a burden than a help. People have good intentions of helping, but sometimes can have a negative impact. As a person wanting to provide support, it could be easy to take this personally and have thoughts like, “well I just wanted to help”, “they’re so ungrateful”, etc. At the end of the day, your good intentions of helping do not override the impact on the person in need. You don’t always have a full picture, so trusting the person you’re going to support and putting your ego aside is crucial. If you’re showing up to support someone, it is about them, not you.

Clear and Honest Communication is in Everyone’s Best Interest

This leads to the most important part of this—in order for support to work best for everyone, clear and honest communication is key. Those providing support must be explicit about what they can and are willing to do. Those receiving support need to be explicit about what they need and how they need it. Not doing this leads to passive-aggressive comments on both sides and leaves everyone feeling not great in an already difficult situation. This isn’t just about providing support once, but providing it over time. My illness is not going away, and I will need support for a long time. There is always a chess game in my head of how much support I can accept now, so I have some down the road later on. This weekend, I had a friend tell me she is in this for the long haul and happy to watch my kids like she did then any time. This is huge and so helpful. At the end of the day, these are just details of how you can potentially improve your support you’re giving. If you’re showing up and supporting, you are doing amazing.

Meet Lacey Tomlinson

Lacey is a seemingly average 30-something woman from the Midwest. She has two amazing children, an awesome husband, and a sweet dog. Her love of learning and education led her to earn two master's degrees (that mostly only she cares about) and work in education, learning, and development. Lacey started writing and exploring the concept of "the middle" - whether that refers to the middle of life, stages, problems, or rankings. This led to the creation of The Mddl. Around the same time, Lacey experienced some life-changing health struggles that gave her the courage to share her own "middles" and invite others to do the same. Visit to learn more about Lacey and The Mddl.

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