1 September 2011
You'll often hear me talking about support. Generally I feel the world is better with it. Whether we support each other to achieve individual or common goals, or just support each other to get by. I'm a big fan of chipping in, helping out and rallying around people. You never know when you may need some support too. But there are different kinds of support and in my eyes, not all of them are equal.
The first kind is when we express support for a person no matter what they do. Even if what they're doing isn't necessarily thought out. "Good on you for having a go at leaping over the back fence!" You let the person know you think they're awesome, if a little misguided. Another type of support is when you offer them an easier way out. "You know, you don't have to jump over the back fence. Not everyone can. You shouldn't feel bad for not doing it." You care about the person. You want their life to be easier. You know they'll probably feel sad that they haven't achieved what they set out to but you want them to know you won't think less of them, even if it's not in their best interests to support them in that way. A third kind of support is when you help out practically, so maybe you stand by and offer a casserole when they are recovering from the injuries sustained in their leap over the back fence. Practical help is always good and necessary. But there is another kind of support that can be more helpful. The kind where you offer another option that the person may not have thought of or may have been afraid to try and then you support them to find out more about it and achieve their goals, all the while believing they can get there... Posing the question; "What if you walk around the fence instead?"
I've been lucky to have had each kind of support offered to me, but especially the last kind. It completely changed how I live my life. Through the unwavering support and belief of another person, the lives of all of us in our nest changed for the better. But it wasn't just offered to me. It has been offered to thousands of families, many of whom I now call friends. One person who experienced trauma, violence and discrimination decided it wasn't good enough. Believed people could do better, given the right support and information. Believed and hoped for the best in people and their families. Created a network for them to support and inform each other. I was one lucky woman to stumble across Janet Fraser in an online forum. A couple of times she posted support and information on posts I'd written. Simple things but enough to capture my interest and sometimes shock and outrage me. Sometimes I'd mistake her support as judgement. But her words made sense. And so did the words of many more women I encountered along the way. And I came to understand that they came from a place of love. Before long I was believing and hoping for the best in myself, wishing it for others. Sometimes secretly, other times in a more practical way. If I hadn't stumbled across her, I'd not have birthed babies at home. I wouldn't have sought to parent in a more gentle, intuitive way. My children wouldn't be unschooled. I wouldn't have most of my friends in my life. Or a goddaughter. I have no idea what I'd write about on this blog, but it wouldn't be the owlet you've come to know...
The brilliant thing is, I made all those decisions on my own. Became the person I wanted to, experienced what I wanted to and all because of the support of, at first one woman, then a whole group of women who redefined support for me. Showed me you can support by believing in someone and sometimes showing them the way forward. It hasn't been an easy road for Janet. In fact, she's encountered the worst kinds of abuse for her unwavering support for women. So I'm writing this in support of her and warrior women like her, like Lisa Barrett and Gloria Lemay. Women who stand and look patriarchy in the eye, all the while supporting and offering love. An amazing gift for so many. We love them for it and thank the universe for people like them. xx