Let’s face it. We’ve all reached an age where we come with some baggage. I don’t care if you’re divorced, married, widowed, or single. We all have friends who have had marital problems, fertility problems, and financial problems. Chances are we’ve all seen some things. It would be next to impossible to get through early adulthood without tasting a little of the spice of life. (In my case, I’ve tasted it, but due to some cheap beer while we were in the military, I don’t remember all of it.)
Those experiences have shaped who we are, the decisions we make, and the way we live our lives. Those experiences have determined what we like and what we look like (thanks for those extra 10 lbs., Cheap Beer). Those experiences have made us more conscious about the people in our lives and who we really invite in.
I’ll admit it. I’m getting pickier. I’m pickier about what I wear, what I eat, and I’m starting to like wine that doesn’t come in a box. I know that I can’t tolerate snoring or people who sing along with the radio when they don’t really know the words. People who can’t go with the flow and who obviously have their own agenda with no room to maneuver usually don’t make the cut.
As I get older, my friends are getting pickier too. They’re going through the same spiritual growth spurt I am. Which means, if you do the very complicated word problem I’ve laid out for you, who we hang out with is who we all really want to be with.
With pickiness comes a little bit of stubbornness. We know what we want. Our decisions are made based on our own past experiences…things that we may share with our friends, but not in 100% the same way. The decisions that I make are not yours. If they were, I’d be you. My decisions are mine and have come together because of the life I have led. I haven’t led your life. You haven’t led mine. So let’s stop trying to lead each other’s.
As we get older, we don’t always have to agree with what our friends do. And they sure as heck don’t have to agree with what we do. But there is one thing that keeps us all together.
I don’t think most people understand the definition of support. It doesn’t mean that you agree. It doesn’t even mean you have to encourage. It means that you trust your friends to make the best decisions possible…for them. If you start off a sentence with, “Well…if it were me…” then you should stop. Just stop. Because it’s not you.
I would love for everyone to repeat after me.
I support you. And I want you to be happy.
Don’t go any further. No “buts.” No “have you thought about?” No “what ifs?”
When you stop with that one phrase, you’re leaving the door open to be asked your opinion. But there is a difference between being asked and just blurting out what you think. Because when you are asked, your friend wants your opinion. When you offer it without consent…you’re implying that what the other person is doing is wrong.
I know that I’m speaking from the widow’s point of view. I can’t help it. It’s what I know. Most of us widows have been through a very hurtful process when the people we thought were supporting us, were really thinking they would do better if they were in our shoes. And I hope those people never have to really find out.
I thank the friends of mine who have taught me this lesson on how to really be supportive of someone else. I didn’t come up with it on my own. I used to always be the “well, if it were me” gal because I thought everyone should be doing what I was doing. But after so desperately needing just unconditional support and receiving it from a select few, I’ve realized how rare true SUPPORT is.
But "if it were me”…I would have been supportive all along.
For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at www.theWiddahood.com!
© Catherine Tidd 2010