Blog Post 2: Second Strategy for PLC’s
After my first blog post I received lots of encouragement and some questions from those currently teetering over the lop-sided world of providing support as a PLC (Person who Loves someone with Challenges.) While I have several tools and strategies on how to have more balanced responses, the most important and first strategy in providing support and care for those with major challenges is simple: that we make connections with other people. The valued comments and questions that I received after that first blog post are exactly that-an effort to connect. It is in our connection that we grow stronger. Keep the comments and questions coming, please! Don’t wait, comment or ask now at your first impulse-as that is the first step toward finding a better way. A solution may not come immediately, but in following through with that first impulse to sincerely connect and reveal a bit of vulnerability, you are making a slight shift. That first shift leads us to others.
Change in us happens like growth in
the natural world, as we are a part of nature itself. The garden sprouts seedlings little by little. Following that first impulse to connect gently propels the first inklings of growth that can then gather momentum and finally come into a new way of coping, and even thriving during difficulties.
Though I will not share publicly the words that are given to me in private without consent, I will share a comment from a person who volunteers to be an open book here for our benefit. She writes, “My friends seem overwhelmed with the challenges that I experience (as a PLC.) I see in their words and expressions that they can’t bear to think about it anymore…they are good people but they are unaware that their message to me is ‘please for god’s sake become invisible.’ They can’t help it.” She went on to explain not only what her friends can’t help doing, but what she also can’t help herself from: “constantly looking for solutions,” to what appears to be a dire situation for a loved one who depends upon her help. It’s like when you meet a friend who asks, “How’s it going?” and you can only be honest and admit that your world is crumbling, when a nice pat answer over a coffee is really what’s necessary to maintain the desired ambiance of the meeting. This fellow PLC went on to disclose that conversations are then cut short with an unspoken code that says, “come back when you’ve got it all worked out or whenever it’s over…whichever comes first.” She then goes on to explain that in reading this blog and finding comfort in considering that she is not alone and can connect with others in a similar situation, she’s developed a renewed motivation to help her friends find some understanding to counter her brutal honesty when asked how she’s doing. She says, “we will cross this finish line together or not at all.” Now those are motivating words! In this way, her friends will be prepared to reach out to her if and when they find themselves landing in a similar place in life.
This thought brings me to the next tool for the PLC, with the first being to CONNECT, REACHOUT, & RESPOND. The second tool to remember as a struggling PLC is that all states of being are temporary. I was motivated to consider this idea from an energetic and idiosyncratic professor of physiology, Dr. Lott, in an undergraduate class at The University of North Texas in the 80’s. This “law of the universe” dictated by a professor, beloved by many, made such an impact upon me as a 20 year old that I’ve used it since as a way to help deal with challenges of my own as well as in counseling sessions with others. When the going gets tough and the gravity of a situation really hits, whether it’s an event that is happening in the moment, like a fresh medical emergency, or if it’s difficult blast from the past that erupts within our own minds, it helps to consider that all things change, nothing is permanent. I realize that as we do not know exactly how things will change, it can be stressful. But a truth we can count on is that states of being will change, even the most difficult ones. We don’t know which way the spinning top will land on each occasion, but we do know that it will eventually land. Those beloved friends and family members that do not have the skills or band-width for your struggles as a PLC will most likely discover for themselves a lop-sided state similar to the one that you now navigate. When this happens you will be ready for them in this safe space to explore and learn to thrive with others under difficult circumstances. This is the space of the PLC’s as we connect, reach out and respond, and as we understand that things can and will change. We come to this understanding by taking a broader view of our difficulties, panning out from far away to gain a greater perspective. From here, as if on the peak of a long hike up a mountain, look at your life span from the past to this current difficult state and notice the visible life-changes that have already happened, both the good and the challenging, and yet you survived. We are still here grappling together. Life itself is still with us and, scrappy as we may feel, in this knowing may we find hope.
If you've made it through this second blog, thanks so much for reading and be sure to leave a comment! Deb