Building a Foundation is No Easy Task
Foundations come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Though what comes to mind when we hear the word is often the cement slab beneath many homes and buildings. But the kind of foundation I’m talking about is built of people. It’s the network which is formed when we become part of a community, be it a church, a family, a group of synergistic businesses, or people following the same path.
In short, building a foundation is about connecting with those who will be our support group through good times and bad. We’re there for them, and they are there for us. It sounds pretty simple, and for most people, it probably is.
But there are far too many of us who slip through the cracks. We have trouble connecting in the first place, often due to a restrictive combination of massive introversion and a history of taking care of ourselves and not asking for help. From the outside looking in, we look like anyone else, moving through life’s pitfalls with all the help we might need to navigate.
Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth, and I write for those people because I am one of them. We do try to connect but our circuit never fully completes. We’ll go along just fine for a while, sharing a bit of ourselves and listening when others need to share. But when the lights go off at night we’re always alone. When the world feels like it’s crashing down around our ears, there’s no one to help dig us out.
For the Many Who Stand On Unstable Ground
When we do admit we’re on shaky ground, it typically either scares people away or pisses them off. How dare we be less than the strong, capable person we let people believe we are. What could possibly possess us to show weakness and expect anyone, even family to understand that sometimes we could really use a little propping up. The truth is, our foundation is built on quicksand which drags us dangerously close to the abyss where one day we’ll just fall in and never come back out.
And we’re not so sure we’d even be missed.
That’s not to say we’re not a part of one community or another. But we stay on the outskirts, never fully embraced by those at the center of the circle. It’s not their fault. Likes attract like, and we never learned the give and take of normal relationships. We’re too afraid of being rejected to truly allow people to see our soft, gooey center. We might give them samples to see how they react. But if we perceive even the slightest hint of disgust, we pull back into our tortoise shell so quickly as to leave them wondering if they even saw anything worthy of so visceral a reaction.
Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone, But Only So Far
Surprisingly enough, many of us continue to venture out, trying to find that foundation, that community everyone around us seems to enjoy. Most if not all of us aren’t exactly joiners, but we’ll follow our passions wherever they take us, at least until things get too scary. Then back into our shells we go. In our lives, the shell is the firmest foundation we have. It’s lonely and it’s isolated, but from our skewed perception, it’s safe.
“Safe” is of course a relative term. Safe from having your heart broken? Check. Safe from an earthquake or tidal wave? Not so much. Safe from starvation or homelessness? Probably not that either. Safe from dying of sheer loneliness? Definitely not.
Though we may be better off alone under certain circumstances, in the long run, we’re not. We simply have to find our tribe; the people who accept us warts and all, and who are ready and willing to support us when, as I tend to say we’re “not in a good place right now”. More than that, we need people who understand we don’t want to burden anyone with a litany of all the things that are scaring us at the moment.
Foundations of a Different Kind
We might not even be able to handle a full-on foundation. A few struts to support us until we get our legs back under us may have to suffice. Maybe that’s another version of a foundation anyway.
Most people see a foundation as a firm, solid base, but what if, for those of us who are foundation-challenged, we simply need a looser interpretation. Our ideal foundation is built of people who understand that sometimes we need to stand alone or even isolate ourselves, while others, we want and need to be safe within the womb of our tribe. Our need for a more fluid, flexible foundation is harder to meet.
We need people as sensitive as we are to those undercurrents that aren’t visible to the naked eye; people who sense rather than see when they’re needed. Interestingly enough, most people have no problem sensing how we can be a sensitive ear or a supportive shoulder, which just proves there are people who are able to be part of our foundation.
Testing the Waters: An Introvert’s Safety Net
Many times I write a post that comes from the depths of my soul because I know someone out there might be feeling the same and needs to know they’re not alone. Once in a great while, I’ll get a message from someone who recognizes the unspoken story behind the words, and knows I, too am asking for help in the only way I know how. I know it’s completely backwards and short-sighted to expect people to see both sides of the message. And frankly, it’s somewhat intentional.
In a way, I’m testing the waters to see if anyone recognizes there’s more to my words than meets the eye. It’s my own distorted way of checking out the people I think understand me to see if I can offer them a more candid shot. Most of the time, it goes no further.
Setting Ourselves Up for Failure
I know I’m not alone here either. Too many hold back large chunks of their true selves because they are constantly disappointed by the responses they get when they put themselves out there. The trouble is, they, like me, tend to do so in such a way that they ensure their disappointment. We send out mixed messages, or are too cautious about letting people see our hurt, or fear, or lack of confidence. We’re too subtle for our own good.
Worse still, we see ourselves as too broken to be of any use to anyone when we’re being our true selves. We lend an ear, and at least in my case, are privy to the brokenness in other people they don’t easily share with others. They sense the kindred spirit, but we never give them the opportunity to return the favor or get to know us better. Because of the inherent need in most humans to both need and be needed, these relationships die on the vine because we don’t nurture both sides of the equation.
But I, like others who see the world through these distorted lenses would probably be surprised to learn that those we helped would be there for us if we only cracked a window or left the door unlocked.
All is Not Lost
Foundations can be formed, even by the most broken among us. But in order to do that, we have to be willing to live with our fears for a little longer, and take a risk of being dropped on our keester one more time. Most of all, we have to take a huge chance and let someone know that no, we are not OK right now and could use a little shoring up. The initial steps are going to be the stuff of every nightmare we ever dredged up from our subconscious minds. Yet we never seem to imagine the glory and joy of potential rewards, do we?
Letting Gratitude Strengthen Our Foundation
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful I have an outlet for my fears and tough times, even if no one actually recognizes the hidden meaning behind the words. I’m better for having gotten them out there and maybe, just maybe, helped one person over a rough patch.
- I’m grateful for my writing. Sometimes, it truly is the only thing between me and throwing in the proverbial towel.
- I’m grateful for the bits and pieces of foundation I’ve been able to gather. They may not prop me up every time, but there have been a few pleasant surprises along the way.
- I’m grateful for the memory of my parents’ suicides if only because they serve as a reminder of what their untimely deaths have done to me, not only in the months and years immediately afterwards, but of the deeper wounds I continue to slog through.
- I’m grateful for abundance: WORDS. I have an abundance of words for just about any situation!
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your uniquely genuine self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author