Click for post soundtrack – Lean On Me

When faced with stress or adversity, the experts tell us it behooves us to have a ‘strong support network’.   Stress, especially long-term stress, is debilitating.  It causes problems- physical health problems and mental health problems.  Media outlets are full of articles on the recession related mental health crisis – reporting that more people are seeking help from mental health professionals, the rise in prescriptions of anti-depressants, and at the extreme end, individuals beset by helpless feelings committing suicide.  It’s good to have a loving spouse, caring family, supportive friends, or a faith community to turn to when you lose your job or home.  People who do, we are told, are less likely to succumb to depression or lose hope.

Losing first our home and savings, and then my job, has been very stressful.  The first two months of being homeless were an adrenalized stress- I felt hyped up with anxiety and fear while we lived in tents.  I didn’t feel we were safe and my unemployment checks were tied up in a paperwork snafu.  Since acquiring and moving into our trailer my stress has morphed into a more steady and continuous pressure.  The uncertainty of our future weighs on me and after searching steadily for a new job without success, I doubt my ability to greatly influence that future. 

Where is our support network?  Well, it’s largely internet-based and I would characterize it as made of up people who know of me, as opposed to knowing me. And I appreciate every one of our cyberspace supporters! We do have caring family who offer what help they can but they live far from us and are themselves limited by the economy.  Locally what I perceived of as friendships with people from work and church have turned out to be more a matter of ‘club’ membership- and we don’t belong to those clubs anymore.  It appears I have a regrettable tendency to mistake friendly behavior for friendship!  I am a fiercely passionate and loyal friend and unreasonably expect an equivalent commitment from the people I befriend.  A commitment they might not want or find possible to make.  It is I expect, the reason I never married.  Too high expectations.   So now I draw what solace I can from my animals- always loving and sympathetic- and nature, cheap wine, and intermittent contacts with friendly people.  I guess one of the things I miss is feeling like I can be a friend- when people do contact us it’s in the spirit of charity, not because they like us or want to spend time with us.

I have always been a fairly resilient person – perhaps not overly strong or brave but not weak or fearful either.  I try to do what needs to be done.  As a single mom by choice I’m used to relying on myself and I’ve prided myself on my ability to be self-sufficient.  Like my own mother in times of crisis I try to maintain a sense of humor.  Perhaps it’s a bit darker than most people’s but I still find things to laugh about.  But this unrelenting stress has worn down my resiliency and lately I find myself feeling more fragile and less capable. It’s hard to be alone in this. I soldier on, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. But I have no sense of where we are going anymore.

I wish I had someone to lean on.  A shoulder to cry on, a chest to rest against, an embrace in which to find comfort.