Support System of One

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, forgive me I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)
Someone I know has been dealing with a recent traumatic event in their life.  This person has been in therapy to seek help on how to deal with what happened.  And they also told me that they have been talking to friends for support as well.  Even though they have reached out to different people, they told me that they don’t feel fully supported. The therapist told them that she didn’t think they would ever be able to have a relationship again because of what happened.  And slowly, one by one, the friends have sort of drifted off in reaching out.  Let’s start with the therapist……If you ever have a licensed therapist tell you some negative bullshit as above:  GET A NEW THERAPIST.  As for the friends…..Sometimes that happens.  People go on with their day to day lives and forget to reach out.  That or they are busy dealing with drama in their own lives.  To put it simply, those around you may not always be there for you.

That’s when you have to learn to be your own support system.  Now, this is by no stretch of the measure an easy feat. It took me years to learn this lesson for myself.  Yes, I had a few family members and friends who were there to lend a helping hand.  And other times to give words of encouragement or a listening ear.  But when they weren’t readily available, I had to learn to be there and do those things for myself.  I grew up in a single parent home with a parent that was really never emotionally available.  I was super close with my grandma growing up, so there was someone giving me that emotional love and support I needed.  And that was fine for the time.  But as I grew up (and started seeing examples of my friend’s relationship with their parents) I realized that wasn’t enough.  I wanted, needed and craved that sort of attention from just one person.  And they just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me that.  So what was I left to do?

I learned that if I was going to make it in this life, not only did I have to learn to trust others in their support, but I had to be MY BIGGEST SUPPORT SYSTEM.  What that meant for me was if I wanted to do or try something, I had to learn to talk myself up.  If I was feeling down about something in my life, I had to find a way to work through it.  I started writing.  I have kept a diary (I call it a journal now that I’m adult, Lol) since the age of about 14.  In there, I can be whoever I want. I can say whatever I want about whatever I wanted.  It’s a judgment-free zone.  It’s a place for my eyes, emotions, thoughts, and opinions only.  It’s a place where I can work out my issues in a healthy way.  It’s also the place where I can let go of negative energy and replace with more positive energy.  When I feel like someone is putting me down (like my parent used to do a lot) I would write in the journal how I felt about that.  And I would write how what they said was completely wrong and inaccurate.  Doing this over time allowed me to build my self-confidence and support muscles.  I learned to stand on my own two feet because I wouldn’t always have someone there to hold my hand.  I found my inner strength and more importantly my inner peace.  If that meant that I didn’t talk to certain people anymore, then so be it.  If that meant that I had to spend more time alone to work through my own shit, then so be it.  If that meant that I would limit the number of interactions with my parent, then so be it.  And let me tell you the last one is a doozy when you live in the same house, but it can be done.

Becoming your biggest support system won’t happen overnight.  It takes a bit of time and that time varies from person to person.  Step by step, little by little.  You just have to figure out how that would work best for you.  Even though I’ve learned to become my biggest support system, it’s still a practice I work on daily.  Some days I still struggle and may need to lean on those around me who care.  And other times they are not around, so I have to lift myself up.  Sometimes you may not have access to a support system, so learning to be your own is even more important.  If you find others that give you the support you need, that’s great! But let them be your back up.  You have to be your own cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, positive person, and most importantly your own best friend.  Because no one is going to look out for you and love you as much as you would do for yourself.

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No More Downplaying: Period

I have a real issue with acknowledging my achievements and talents in my life.  Self-doubt has always been such a big problem for me.  It’s almost as if I think that I don’t deserve whatever it is I accomplished or my God-given talents.  Take my recent weight loss as a prime example.  I have lost over 30 pounds in the past 11 months.  That’s a big freaking deal by anyone’s standards.  But to me, seeing as though it took me damn near a year to do this, it wasn’t good enough.  My thinking was that I should have lost more in that time.  I belittled all the hard work, sweaty workouts, sore muscles and hours of meal planning I put into the process.  None of that shit was easy or fun to do, trust me.  So why do I continue to do this to myself?  I think it’s because no matter how far I may have come; I always see how far I still have to go.  Even though I have lost over 30 pounds, I tend to mostly focus on the weight I still have left to lose.  For me, this isn’t exclusive for just my weight loss.  This has translated to most of the things I have achieved and to my goals.

I have a tendency to downplay MOST if not all of my accomplishments and talents.  And it’s totally not a, “I’m trying to stay humble” thing. It’s more of a, “I sort of did it, but damn I still have so much farther to go” thing.  See the problem?  Often times I can’t pat myself on the back for doing something that I worked really hard to do.  Some things that even people who know me wish they could have done.  That’s the very thing I have been told a few times by several different people  They say this in regards to my recent weight loss and also about the things that I have written that they have read.  But since I’m nowhere I want to be and in my mind, “still have so far to go” it means almost nothing.  Career-wise, I’m nowhere close to where I want to be either.  My career goal is to be a full-time author.  To be more specific, I want to write fiction books for adults and children.  I have been doing the biggest step of all to achieve this goal and that is to simply write.  The more writing one does, the better they become right?  The negative side of my thinking always says this step isn’t shit if no one has read what I have written. But regardless of how small, it’s bringing me closer to my goal of being on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I have been writing much more than I have been in the past few years, which is a bit of an achievement in itself.  I have been submitting my poetry to different publications and have gotten published.  That’s a big one because (as per usual in my mind) my work isn’t all that great.  SIDEBAR:  I received my first professional review of a poem I wrote.  The critic wrote that my poem was, “the first piece I return to after a long day of work to find my calm.”   Cool huh?!

For someone who doesn’t know anything about me to say that my poem was one of her top three favorites in the anthology, has to speak to my writing abilities.  I have to really start training my mind to believe and know that I have a talent for writing.  I must start giving myself credit for continuing to go after my dreams.  Whatever effort I’m making (big or small) it is getting me closer and closer to the finish line.  And I should celebrate every victory with an enthusiastic pat on the back.  I am starting to learn to accept the fact that I am the shit for even making a serious effort to accomplish anything.  The person I was a few years ago would never have attempted the things that I have recently. I think that the downplaying I still do sometimes is a bit of the old me that reside inside.  She always has something less than stellar to say.  Who knows, she may always live in the small relics of my mind.  But I can’t let her or anyone else put a damper on my accomplishments, talents, dreams or goals.  Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going to see an R&B band that I love called, “The Internet.”  I had the privilege of getting some sound advice from one of the members named Matt.  I told him that I was a writer and a future New York Times Bestselling author. Speak it into existence right?  I told him that most times I am filled with so much self-doubt I can’t see how I will accomplish my dreams. I also let him know that despite that, I know that I’m a damn good writer.  But that I have trouble remembering that all the time.  He told me that that sort of thing happens to most people, but that I had to keep positive thoughts always.  I have to be my biggest supporter no matter what.  And that I should always know that anything is possible no matter how impossible it may seem.  I knew all those things before he said them to me.  And I have thought them myself before.  But to hear them from someone whom I just met, and is a fellow artist like me put them into a direct perspective this time.  Thank you, Matt, for putting everything back into perspective for me with your wise words.

So what am I going to do to improve this pointless, negative behavior?  I’m going to start focusing on what I actually did to accomplish the goal.  If someone actually compliments me on an achievement I reached or even notices the effort given, I will sincerely take the compliment.  I will start looking at how far I’ve come as opposed to how far I still have to go.  With my writing, I will pay more attention to writing quality blogs people can relate too rather than obsessing about getting my views numbers up.  If I write good stuff and stay consistent, they will come.  It’s all comes down to how I look at things and what I focus on.  If I (and you) continue to look at how far we still have yet to go, then not only are we downplaying our achievements but we are slowing down our progress.  And trying to achieve anything is challenging enough, why add more unnecessary crap to that?  And above all of that, I truly have to remember this:  I AM THE SHIT.  Period.  I’m good at what I do.  Writing is my God-given talent.   And I have been blessed with the strength, drive, and hunger to get anything I want in this life.  So from this moment on, I’ll do my best to only look at how much I have progressed in my journey.  My advice is not to let a setback (or what you perceive as small steps) keep you from patting yourself on the back for a job well done.  Know that you’re doing your best and you too are the shit.  If you don’t think that you’re killing it at working toward your goals, then you won’t be.  And again, who needs that unnecessary crap on their minds?