Creating Community

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Over the five years I lived with my Mom’s cancer diagnosis, I became very skilled at “creating community.”   i.e., reaching out to people to tell the truth about how I was feeling and asking for support.  It wasn’t easy at first, but it got easier and easier as time went on.

 Why was it so hard in the beginning? Because so often when human beings are dealing with tough stuff we feel uncomfortable reaching out to others. We don’t want to burden anyone else. On the other hand people love supporting their friends and family in need yet we so rarely get to BECAUSE we’re all trying to be brave and not burden each other. Don’t you love being that shoulder for your friends? Well they love doing that for you too. This won’t always be easy. It will require you to get out of your comfort zone, be vulnerable and tell someone ALL of the details of what is really going on with you.

Saying everything is important for two reasons. First, if you don’t say how you are really feeling your community won’t know how to support you. You honestly may not know what you need other than a compassionate ear at that moment, so let them make suggestions and then see what works for you. Second, you want to get all of those thoughts out of that space between your ears that have been keeping you up at night. Sometimes we just need a “witness” to our pain. Very often when I say the things out loud that I’ve been thinking, I realize I’m not alone, or it isn’t as dramatic as I’ve made it out to be, or I come up with a solution during the conversation.

Some of us tough people who think we SHOULD be able to handle things on our own may be afraid to open up because we fear we’ll be embarrassed by revealing that we don’t have it all together.  What I found though was that each time I let go of my fears and opened up to someone, it was as if the universe knew to bring me just the right person who said just the right things at just the right time.  It’s what I call “Divine Right Timing.”    

What are you dealing with right now? What would you have to let go of to reach out to someone and share yourself? If you are already doing that, what else is possible?

By the way, this is Lesson #3 from my new book (and Amazon Bestseller) When I Die, Take My Panties: Turning Your Darkest Moments into Your Greatest Gifts. (Also available on Kindle as of August 19th)

Jennifer CokenComment