The feeling of being alone and isolated can be devastating. Support from friends and family is crucial. If you are in need of support, here are some suggestions:
- Acknowledge your need for support. Put aside the idea that “needing support” is shameful or that you “have to be strong” all the time.
- Take the initiative. Don’t just wait for the phone to ring. Let people know that you want their support and be specific about your needs. Set up regular phone calls or times to get together. If people offer to help, be ready to say “yes” and to make specific plans rather than just leaving things vague.
- Open yourself to the support people offer you as much as you can. When people have been hurt emotionally, it often takes a while before they can open up again to any kind of emotional input, including support. There is the threat that it will reopen the wound. You will need to respect your own timing in this regard. It is not something that you can control. But right from the beginning, you can “allow” as much support as possible even if it is painful.
- Try to not be afraid of reopening the wound. Actually, it can be helpful. When people have been hit with something that is emotionally overwhelming, they can’t deal with it all at once. It is too painful. However, if you let yourself feel your feelings, you will learn that reopening the wound is not going to bring back all the pain at once, even though that is the way it may feel at the start. You will learn that the pain comes back in smaller chunks, and, as you can survive these “little bits,” you will end up feeling emotionally stronger and less afraid. Overwhelming emotional pain gets dealt with in “little chunks” experienced over and over again.
- Be appreciative but careful. People will extend support in ways that don’t match where you are emotionally. They may support only one set of feelings when you actually have mixed feelings: both anger and hurt, both hate and love. They may advise you to do one thing “never talk to him again” when you are still unsure and need to allow your emotional process to swing back and forth. They may want to “protect you” by getting into the middle of things. They may confuse your situation with their own history of hurt, their own set of unresolved issues.
- Find one friend with whom you can talk on a daily basis, or a counselor who can keep your emotional process, however painful, on track. It is such a blessing to have someone who can hear your pain without trying to take over or back away, who can give you a push when your emotional process gets stuck, or who can confront you when you are acting in an unbalanced way.
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