This came to me upon reflection of the support group meeting of moms of special needs children that I facilitated a few days ago.
We were an intimate group sitting comfortably on a soft, thick-pillowed, fall-into circular couch; the kind from which you don’t want to get up. We were so engaged in conversation that when one of the ladies decided it might be time to go home and I looked at my watch, it was 3 hours later. Wow, talk about being in the flow.
The amount of expression, understanding and support that emerged was well worth the fewer hours of sleep that night.
It rang so loud and clear that we need:
A chance to tell our story
To be listened to
To be understood
To be acknowledged
To be supported
To be touched, stroked and held
To have our painful feelings held in acceptance and dignity
We need a place to:
Express our innermost thoughts and feelings
Share our vulnerabilities
I felt these needs met by and for each mom. I felt this place to be a haven for the 3 hours we were together. I felt privileged to be a part of this meeting of hearts, minds and souls.
I’ve heard people talk about support groups in a negative way as a place where misery loves company. I guess that’s a perspective. But to me this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
It’s about people being there for one another in support and understanding.
Twenty nine years ago, I attended a support group for moms of babies born with disabilities. It was one of my greatest life-savers. To feel my intense pain acknowledged, validated and completely understood was a feeling like no other. At a time of tremendous sadness and feelings of isolation with all my negative emotions, to be embraced by a strong connection of understanding was comfort food to my soul.
We were six women from totally different walks of life who shared a most basic commonality – deep pain and sorrow in finding out our babies had life-long compromising conditions. The feelings felt and expressed knew no differences. We were all mothers bleeding the same color blood. Our wounds were raw and exposed , and we were there for one another to begin the process of dabbing at it, cleaning it and preparing it for healing. It was a year- long journey of softening our blows.
I hope and pray that I give over even a fraction of the warmth, comfort and hope that was given to me in my life-affirming support group 29 years ago.
Thank you for reading. If any of you have ever been part of a support group, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on it.