Posts Tagged ‘support’

Family: Who Makes the Cut

Happy Family
Happy Family Taking Self Portrait courtesy photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I write out my Christmas Cards, I can’t help but think of who I consider to be family.

I am part of many families, you see. There’s my mother’s family, and my father’s family with whom I share a common lineage (adoptively speaking), and my father’s created family (those who have standing invitations to our home), and my created family, which includes a few of my friends, and members of each of my other families, and Dashing and a few of his biological family.

It’s a little like this:

FAMILY CHART

FAMILY CHART – BY MISS HAPP

But how do we get there? When you’re little, your family are those people who take care of you, and by extension any whom they call family.

Over years one develops those existing relationships, growing closer to some, learning to tolerate (or not) others… and as one grows and meets new people one adds to the base from which to draw familial relationships.

That’s fairly simple, and common, thinking.

But when is it that someone goes from being a friend, to being family?

For me, it is that line where I would protect them from themselves. I love my friends, yes, but somehow I know they manage without me. I know they can take care of their own stuff, and I trust them to ask for help if they need it. I feel comfortable telling them when I think their behaving poorly, or when they’ve made a poor choice, but if they choose to disagree, well, that’s up to them.

Family though, family is so much more complicated.

Because somehow, in the idea that my life would be truly altered if this person were to leave or be in hardship, there’s the self-protective reaction that says I should do all I can to prevent it.

If a family member has an addiction, it affects me in ways a friend’s addiction might not, and it’s so much harder to tell them “You have a problem, and I need you to get help” because it’s like telling part of yourself that you’ve been let down by it.

If a friend has financial hardship – I might give them some money to help out, but probably not that much, and I might expect it paid back someday. I can understand that a friend might fall on hard times. And I understand that they will get back up on their own eventually.

If I see a family member heading towards financial hardship, I do all I can – lecturing, giving of funds, subtle and not-so-subtle hints about job applications or savings accounts – because underneath it all, I feel responsible for their well-being.

I recognize that, like my friends, my family is mostly full of capable adults, who manage to feed themselves, and clothe themselves, and get to and from work daily without my constant assistance or supervision – but I still feel connected to them in a way where if they fail, I fail. If they succeed, I am proud of their accomplishment, and happy to have helped in any small way. But when family hits a rough spot, for me, it’s an all hands on deck kind of time.

At least, that is the gut, knee-jerk reaction.

But I’ve come to learn that even family, sometimes have to fail on their own.

After all, it’s through failing that we learn our greatest lessons, right?

But even when it’s a hands off – let-em-fall-down kinda time, there’s still that instinct, that basic desire to come between them and the cold, hard ground, because when they hurt, I hurt.

And that’s how I know who’s my family.

Where’s the line for you? Are you more protective of friends, trusting your family to speak up more? What do you think? Let me know below!

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Sympathy for the Skinny Girl

OK, these skinny girls look annoying even to me...

Women At The Gym Doing Cardio Exercises courtesy photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, I don’t really want to get all body issued up in this blog, but how we feel about ourselves and how those around us support that (or not) does relate to community.

My friends are generally under 5’6” and curvy. Very curvy. I think they are some of the sexiest women I know. I love their silhouettes, and spent a good chunk of my university career trying to pack on enough pounds to get my boobs to look like theirs.

But I am 5’9” and usually weigh around 135-145 lbs. For years I have had trouble keeping weight on. I haven’t had to buy a new size of clothing since high school.

I’m that girl.

Well, that girl sold out and went corporate and spends her days sitting at a desk… So that girl put on about 25 – 30 lbs in the last year and a half.

Do you think that girl can complain about having to go pants and bra shopping to her lovely, curvy friends? And expect a little support in return? Um, no.

Because the fact that my boobs now get in the way of my arms when I roll onto my side in bed is nothing compared to the fact that every day since puberty they’ve had to lug those things around while they get in the way of running, and v-neck sweaters, and people making jokes about floatation devices…

The fact that I had to go up a size in my pants, even though the jeans I bought 3 years ago were once too big for me is nothing compared to the fact that they are still wearing a larger size hip than I am…

The fact that I put on 25 pounds in a year and a half means that I am only now brushing up to 160, a number they’ve been looking at for years now – and they’re inches shorter than I.

So really what do I have to complain about?

* for the record, my friends are generally supportive of me and not at all horrible people. Body image brings out the worst in all women, I think. And clearly, it brings out the ranter in me. 🙂

Work Friends: The High Road

High Road Please!

High Or Low Road Directions courtesy Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So it finally happened. I managed to reach through the corporate veneer and offend someone… I’m actually surprised it took this long.

Maybe it’s because I’m really rather blunt. Maybe it’s the Smart Woman Syndrome attacking. Maybe it was just an off day for both of us.

It was last week, and this colleague asked me for advice – she was getting an error and didn’t know what it meant.

So I asked a few questions and tried to figure it out with her. Once I had a better grasp, I advised her on what she should do from there.

I’m looking at her while I’m explaining the process, and she’s getting all flushed, and she keeps interrupting to make defenses and her voice is starting to raise.

So I said, “I’m not attacking you.”

And she said, “But in a way, you are.”

And I said apologetically, “No, I’m just trying to advise you of the best practice in this situation. I’m never attacking you. Not ever.”

So I wrapped up as quickly as I could and got the heck out of there.

And she hasn’t spoken to me since. Even when we meet face to face in the kitchenette or bathroom. Worse, I think she’s encouraging other members of the team to avoid me.

I am acting as though it is all in my head. I continue to greet her, and try to remain unfazed by her stony silence.

Fortunately, she’s leaving the position for another within the company in twenty days, otherwise I might push to hash out our differences and resolve the communication problem (I like to hash things out). Part of me still really wants to ask her for feedback, so that I can grow my communication skills, but the bigger part of me says that would be opening a can of worms bigger than I can control, so….. no.

Anyway, I just really don’t get the silent treatment. I mean it doesn’t particularly bother me, because, well, I have work to do, but this is someone I did consider to be a friend. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t just tell me, “Hey, here’s where I think you were out of line. I’d like an apology.” Or even, “I don’t feel comfortable talking with you right now, so unless it’s work related…”

But this nothing??? It smacks a little of sixth grade. Which is maybe why I don’t mind so much, because really? Really??

Oh well, while she’s sulking, I’m getting lots of work done.

How would you handle a work situation like this?

Student living and me.

Just life. But through the eyes of a Blue-eyed History student.

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