How’s your support system? a friend was asking just yesterday.
I’d felt pretty drained all morning. Hard to pinpoint. There wasn’t any tequila in my immediate past. I hibernated hard the night before. But that malaise that hits sometimes hung over me. It spiked my words and dulled my actions and I couldn’t even muster a happy phrase to keep up appearances.
You might be like me. You might be the helium tank in your circle of friends, the one they come to when they feel a bit depleted, too. Usually, we’ll pump them up with what we know they need to float again because we know them. We care for them, and we want to see them at their best.
I like this job. It’s like when you’re in elementary school and your job is to pick up all the jump ropes after gym class, but it feels right and natural so you do it with zest. It’s not the actual picking up of the ropes. It’s the value you have. The value you feel, more accurately. Because without you, the ropes would stay on the ground and in five or 10 years, there’d be jump ropes all the way to the ceiling at your school.
Someone will pick up the jump ropes and also someone will help fill your friends with the happy gas they need to get back on top. But we feel like we’re the only ones equipped for the job at times.
We feel like the last line of defense.
Who gasses you up?
I answered that I don’t have a support system, which is assinine. Plenty of people, my family included, would be sad if I wasn’t around. But they don’t always listen. Even those I adore most. They’re good at conversation, but few actually listen. That’s where the tanks get replenished, in the listening.
I don’t mind and I don’t notice only for those times I really need it. I love my friends and I love everyone close to me, formerly close to me or moving close to me. Our shared experiences will shape future me.
But dammit — I just need one of you to listen. Once, every five months, give or take. Forget your own pains and foibles and turn to me and say, “how are YOU doing?” And mean it. Don’t be thinking of what to say next.
What if no one asks?
Find someone. Even one that you’ve never asked that of. Just to listen. Ten minutes, maybe 17. Take a break, take a walk, call them up.
If you’re that person, who needs this once in a blue moon? DO IT. Or you’ll crash. And those people will miss you but they’ll find another tank.
You’re like this because it’s your nature. You also like it. Let’s be honest. I love being that person. But I can’t unless the tribe takes a moment to shut up. And listen.